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, December 02, 2005

A PLAN FOR ENDLESS CHAOS


George W. Bush announced this week that he has a plan to end the war in Iraq. But it was really just more of the same...be patient he told the country, this kind of endless war on terror takes time. We've heard it all before.

The Bush team might play the shell game with us in 2006 by bringing home a few troops but in the end the permanent bases will remain and so will active U.S. engagement for control of Iraq. According to the "strategy plan" document Bush released after his speech this week at the Naval Academy, while the U.S. military presence "may become less visible, it will remain lethal and decisive, able to confront the enemy whereever it may organize."

It was disclosed yesterday that the Pentagon has given a Bush supporter a $100 million contract to plant stories in the Iraq media that have been written by the U.S. military. The Washington-based public relations firm, called the Lincoln Group, is working with the Pentagon's "Special Operations Command" to place favorable stories about the war and rebuilding in the Iraqi media as a way to turn the growing opposition to U.S. occupation around. I guess the hope is that they can do like they do in the U.S. -- influence the public with a compliant and subservient media. So if they have to spend some taxpayer $$$ to pull it off, well why not. It's all for freedom and democracy.

As I was watching the NBC news report on this story last night they concluded the spot by interviewing a journalism professor from a major U.S. university. He commented that if the U.S. wanted freedom and democracy in Iraq, then this program of planting stories and deceiving the people would fundamentally UNDERMINE their development of a truly free media and would UNDERMINE the development of real democracy.

I think the phony media stories though clearly reveal the real U.S. intentions for Iraq. It is not about democracy and freedom. It is about control and domination of the people so the U.S. can extract their oil and water - their primary national resources.

Bush is repeating his lies over and over again in hopes that people will just be worn down and give up - both in Iraq and here at home. We can not, and will not, allow this to happen. Our opposition must grow as the Bush lie machine cranks out even more of its garbage. Now is the time to step on the anti-war pedal and push even harder.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

DEMS LOSING GROUND


All across America there are reports that key local activists are losing faith in the Democratic party. (As I travel and speak this topic is one of the top issues that always comes up during the question and answer period.) Folks are joining the Green party or they, like me, become an independent. People have lost faith that the Democrats will stand up against the war in Iraq, against the destruction of social progress, or will fight to keep the right-wing from controlling the Supreme Court. (Among many other issues.)

At the statewide level here in Maine the debate about the future of the Democratic party is intense. On November 28 State Rep. Joanne Twomey of Biddeford resigned from the Democratic party and became an independent. The Democratic majority in the state house is now down to one slim vote. Rep. Twomey has been described as the "heart" of Maine's Democratic party.....so when she pulls out it is a big deal. In her public statement Rep. Twomey said, "I don't know what being a Democrat means anymore. I call myself a Democrat in exile. I have to stand up and tell the people that our party has lost its roots."

Rep. Twomey is known as one person who always stands with the poor and working people in Maine. At a time when corporations have gained greater influence within the Democratic party across the country, Rep. Twomey has been one who has resisted going along to get along.

The Democrats in Maine have not appreciated Rep. Twomey's efforts to keep the party close to its origins. Nor have the Democrats in Maine appreciated those who work as grassroots activists and organize people in the state to keep the party from drifting to the right. As a result the "party of the people" is abandoning the public. As this happens key activists, and now even leaders within the party, are leaving.

What comes next? How can truly progressive people find their way in this political wilderness? The answer I think is that we have to gather ourselves. Those who are Greens, independents, and Dems of good heart must come together and find ways to work together and to promote our core issues. Now is the time for principled people to stand together. The storm is coming that will shake the very roots of democracy in America. We need to stand with people of good will - - back to back.

Monday, November 28, 2005

PLUTONIUM LAUNCH WORKERS STILL ON STRIKE


Boeing Corporation workers at the Florida space center are still on strike over health care and retirement benefit issues. They've been on strike since November 2.

What makes this story important is that these are the very same workers who are normally supposed to be preparing the Atlas launch rocket that is scheduled to lift-off on/after January 11, 2006 with the New Horizons plutonium probe to Pluto. The mission will carry 24 pounds of deadly toxic material on board.

The striking workers have been replaced by management employees and the Florida Today newspaper has reported that the union is concerned that the replacement workers might not have the skills to ensure a successful launch. Already there have been incidents that required investigation by NASA and the Air Force after union workers claimed that Boeing managers were in over their head.

Even in ideal conditions rockets have about a 10% failure rate at the space center. Add radioactive plutonium into the equation and you are asking for trouble.

Protests are now being planned at the space center prior to the launch. Florida residents who are concerned about what could happen after a launch accident are now organizing the planned protest. The NASA Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the New Horizons mission says that there is a 1 in 300 chance of an accident leading to the release of plutonium.

The nuclear industry views space as a new market. Unfortunately, we know that space technology can and does fail from time to time. NASA intends to expand the numbers of nuclear launches in coming years in order to put nuclear-powered bases on the moon and send nuclear rockets to Mars. The military wants nuclear reactors in space to provide power for weapons in the heavens. Would you feel safe with all these nuclear missions being launched from the space center if you lived near it?

Doesn't it make more sense to demand that NASA fund the development of alternative space power sources? Shouldn’t taxpayers demand that NASA not play Russian roulette with the lives of the people?

One serious space nuclear accident would kill the space program and destroy the Central Florida economy and environment. The time has come for the public to intervene on behalf of the future generations.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

SHOP TIL THEY DROP


I was watching CNN news last night and they were covering the day after Thanksgiving national shopping craze. They showed folks lined up outside WAL-MART at about 5:00 am and how they rushed the doors once the store opened. In the rush to get in people fell to the floor, were trampled on, and then once inside they began literally fighting with each other over various "sale" items.

Now is it just me or is this not insanity? Is it not absolutely crazy to first of all spend the night outside some store so you can be first in line? Is it not insane to trample others who have dropped to the ground as the crowd makes the mad rush for the door? Is it not totally stupid to get into a fight with other people over the "latest" toy or other such gizmo? Are we not a nation out of control?

At the end of the segment on CNN one young man shopper was quoted as saying that in the end he did not think he "saved as much money as he expected." Hello, don't you know the mega-stores use these tactics of a few sales items to get folks into their stores so they can then take you to the cleaners on the other items!

This is capitalism at its worst. This whole "holiday" shopping thing is a societal sickness. Consuming is the god of our day. Materialism is a symptom of a much deeper sickness in the hearts and minds of the American people. We are a people without a soul. Shopping and consumerism is a band-aid on our aching national psyche.

Boycott the big box stores.....shop at your local mom and pop stores....don't buy junk just to pass on presents because you think it will show people how much you love them....be real and save your money.