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 24, 2006

AFTER THE FALL - THE SUN WILL SHINE AGAIN


I just finished listening to the new solo album by my favorite singer/songwriter, Ray Davies, formerly of The Kinks. His new album is called "Other People's Lives" and it is his first solo venture after many years with the great 60's-90's band that had such hits like "You really got me", "Dedicated Follower of Fashion", "A Well Respected Man", "Lola", "Come Dancing" and many more. I've been a fan since the early 60's and included two of Ray's magical songs at the end of my recent book.

I want to put a couple of verses from one of his new songs here, dedicated to a dear friend in Maine who is having a tough time right now. I hope she will feel much better soon and that things turn out alright. She should always remember that she has lots of friends who love her. The song is called "After the Fall."

I just had a really bad fall
And this time it was harder to get up than before
I cried to the heavens and the vision appeared
I said "Can you help" It replied "Not at all"
After the fall is over
You will be on your own
After the fall is over
They'll be wrecks to clear in this war zone
They'll be much to clean and time to atone
But while it's dark you can shelter here
In the bleak mid winter When you're feeling the fear
But when the mist clears The sun will shine again
I will greet you when the sun shines again
After The Fall is over There'll be a better day

One song on the CD, called "Lonesome Train", is Ray's "American" song as he calls it. This dyed-in-the-wool British rocker, who was influenced by American jazz and blues music, has been struggling his whole career to find his own voice. For years he wrote incredible songs about the grind of being a rock musician having to ride the merry-go-round of the record companies and the pressure to write hits that made the corporations big money. Instead Ray wanted to write about what he saw and felt about life around him. He was always in conflict. At the end of "Lonesome Train" Ray says a voice says to get on the train before it is too late. He wonders, is he running away from something again, or just maybe, finally running toward something. Maybe, after all these years he is finding out who he is. He is finding his voice and is becoming comfortable with it.

Thank you Ray.....

Thursday, February 23, 2006

STOP MONKEYING AROUND WITH MOTHER NATURE


This picture above is very special to me. When I look at it I see the sacred.

The monkey looks to be at peace in its environment. The water is part of its home. The cold and snow, on its body, are all part of its world. The monkey needs little more. It knows its place in the world.

But in the news these days is much about global warming and toxification of the Earth. The water is becoming contaminated in most places by human excess. The polar bears in the Artic are threatened as the icecaps, their home, begin to melt.

I read today that Europe is now going to force manufacturing industries to begin a process called "take back". Starting next year European auto manufacturers will be required to "take back" their old vehicles and recover 85% of the content, reformulating the materials for use in new cars and other products. Consumer electronics, computers and cell phones are next in line. Big American corporations like Ford and GM will have to comply with European rules, since they make cars in Europe. But they will resist agreeing to do the same here with cars they make in the U.S.

Even in Maine's winter, mild as it has been, I have been forcing myself to get out on my bike to do errands whenever possible. I am constantly turning off lights in the house, often having the place near dark with just one light on. I am trying to take even shorter showers than I was before. I just went one month before I had to refill my car's gas tank - a first for sure. I am totally dissatisfied with how much energy I personally use and am struggling for ways to cut my consumption even more.

I don't want to appear to be holier than thou because I know I have no room for being critical of others on this question. I am just trying to remove the log from my own eye. I keep asking myself, do I really need this? Do I really need to make this trip?

The monkeys and the polar bears are deep inside my consciousness now. I've got to do more.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A WALK THROUGH THE DAILY PAPER


Last night while reading the paper I found much to make me moan and groan. Thought I'd share some of the tidbits with you today.....

* The oil corporations are collecting at least $7 billion this year in federal relief. Can you believe that? With record profits they surely don't need more taxpayer help.

* With that said, a local politician is organizing a fundraising event in a nearby town this weekend for the "Keep ME Warm Fund" here in Maine. Why must we bake cookies to raise funds so folks can heat their homes while we are giving subsidies to the already rich? Am I going crazy or what?

* The Bush team wants military retirees to pay more for their health care. This of course violates the promise the government made to veterans. You give us your service and after you retire we give you free health care for the rest of your life. This won't go over very well at the local VFW bar. I can promise you that.

* You've heard about the furor about having an Arab company take over port security operations in the U.S. To me the issue is broader. It is about foreign corporations buying up virtually every business in the U.S. In the last ten years over $1.3 trillion of American businesses have been bought out by foreign corporations. We are now going to find out what it feels like to be a third-world country.

* Condosleezza Rice is once again lecturing the rest of the world about democracy and non-violence. This really drives me crazy. She is telling Hamas that they must renounce violence and disarm and must recognize the state of Israel. Then she goes to Egypt and lectures them on democracy. How about the USA renouncing violence and disarming? How about the USA having free and fair elections in 2006 and 2008? How about the U.S. recognizing the legitimacy of a series of elections in Venezuela instead of assisting in another coup d’etat ?

* And Bush's favorite lap dog, Tony Blair, is lecturing the Iraqi people saying that they must have a "unity" government and must have a multi-party state where "no party, no ethnic, or religious grouping can dominate." I wish Tony would tell that to Bush who now presides over a one-party state linked to a fundamentalist religious sect here in the good ole US of A.

* Iraq - withdraw or redeploy, withdraw or redeploy? I've just figured out how the Repubs and Dems are going to trick us on the troop levels and the so-called withdrawal from Iraq. They are going to say we are pulling out all "combat troops" from Iraq. Then they are going to leave thousands at new permanent bases but these U.S. troops will not officially be combat troops. They will be called something like "Iraqi administration assistance forces" and that will be the end of that.

* In a recent poll in Iraq, 86% of Sunni's say that if the U.S. leaves Iraq the violence will decrease. When the entire Iraqi population is polled 64% say the same thing.

* On the bright side, baseball spring training has just begun. Unfortunately, my favorite team, the Baltimore Orioles are projected for another losing season and a 4th place finish. But still, baseball is soon to begin.

Monday, February 20, 2006

DEMS NEW STALL STRATEGY - "STRATEGIC REDEPLOYMENT"


The reports are coming in from all over the nation. The Democrats are getting pilloried as they shuck and jive on the war. They have an election coming up in fall of 2006 and they want to take back Congress. They are scrambling to find their footing. The Dems think we can have guns and butter - war and health care. I've got news for them - that tune ain't playing no more.

The Boston Globe (click link above for the full article) reported today that the Dems have put Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), a former Army officer, in charge of coming up with a consensus Democratic plan for the war. His answer? It's called "strategic redeployment." What does that mean? "It's important to note that it's not withdrawal -- it's redeployment," Reed said. "We need to pursue a strategy that is going to accomplish the reasonable objectives, and allow us to have strategic flexibility. Not only is it a message, but it's a method to improve the security there and around the globe."

The Dems new plan is to pull some number of U.S. troops out of Iraq into Kuwait and other new bases in Afghanistan, Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa. From the new large bases in Kuwait the U.S. would increase Air Force bombing missions over Iraq, increase the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) like the Predator pictured above that fly via satellite direction and can drop bombs and fire missiles. For the Iraqi people this means more indiscriminate bombing and more innocent people killed.

When things get really out of hand in Iraq, the "strategic redeployment" plan (it's just the Murtha plan with a new name by the way) will call for an expansion of U.S. Special Forces teams going back into Iraq for quick hits and killings of anyone who dares resist the corrupt puppet government the U.S. has put into place.

The Democrats will sell this to the American public by saying they are pulling the troops out of the war. A few units will be brought home and big ceremonies held so that the public thinks the war is slowing down. The Dems hope that "strategic redeployment" will mean less troops will be killed day to day in Iraq. They hope it will be their ticket to victory in November. But in truth the war will go on.

In fact, the endless war will be expanded with new basing arrangements in Southeast Asia, Africa and Afghanistan. More territory will be occupied and the field of operations against that faceless "terrorism" will be expanded. All this will be done with the Dems full encouragement and support. And guess what? The Pentagon will need lots more money to build these new bases and outposts and Congress - both Repubs and Dems - will give them the money.

The peace movement had better not fall for this bait and switch. The Dems are running an election game on us. They are feeling our pressure and this is their disingenuous response. Peace activists nationwide must see through this latest shell game and call it for what it is. Strategic deception.

The time has come for the peace movement to unembed itself from the Democratic Party. As long as peace activists see themselves as "party" people they will not have the ability to be critical of these kind of cynical moves to co-opt our energies.

I was in Germany right after the U.S. began the invasion of Afghanistan soon after 9-11. The Green Party in Germany supported that invasion and angered the German peace movement. I saw German peace activists publicly condemn national Green Party leaders for supporting the U.S. war. The peace activists understood where their primary allegiance belonged. To the anti-war movement first, and then to a party. If the party goes astray, the peace movement does not follow. We must do the same here in the U.S.