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

Saturday, March 04, 2006

DEMANDING DEMOCRACY & TOWN HALL MEETING


On March 1-2 I headed north to the University of Maine in Orono (UMO), where I spoke to a group of students brought together by my friend Dud Hendrick who teaches peace studies at the school. Dud and I are members of Maine Veterans for Peace.

The day before, a one-hour interview on the community radio station, WERU, had been set up for me by Dud. Already several new people have contacted our office who had listened to the show.

It was the second time I have spoken to Dud's peace studies class at UMO. In this case several of his students brought in their friends who don't take the class to hear my talk. I was told by the head of the peace studies department that several students were overheard after my talk saying they wanted to have me back to speak to a larger group of students.

From UMO I followed Dud as we made the 1 1/2 hour drive to Deer Isle, near Acadia National Park, where I was to speak to Dud's local peace group that evening. The meeting of Island Peace & Justice was well attended, and we had a lively discussion following my talk. In both of these talks, I put heavy emphasis on how space technology is used to fight modern war. Thus, if the U.S. can "control and dominate" space, the Pentagon is able to be the world's preeminent military power.

I also told both audiences that day that they were lucky to have Dud around as a teacher and friend. Dud went to the U.S. Naval Academy and was a pilot in Vietnam during the war. He went on to become a successful lacrosse coach at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

Dud has been one of the key organizers of our Freqent Visitor Program here in Maine, where we have occupied the offices of our Congressional delegation reading the names of American GI's killed in Iraq and an equal number of innocent Iraqi civilians. Eight times during the past year we have held such events across the state. Dud was one of the 19 people with whom I was arrested on December 15, 2005 when we sat in at the Bangor office of our Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME). We have been demanding that our two Republican senators hold a town hall meeting on the Iraq war so that the public may have an opportunity to speak directly to them. So far have they refused to hold such an event.

On February 9, Dud and six others were invited to the Bangor office of Sen. Susan Collins to speak with her via fuzzy teleconferencing technology. She was in Washington DC. The group of peace workers went into that meeting determined only to talk about the need for a town hall meeting on Iraq. Sen. Collins saw it as an opportunity to say she was meeting with small groups of people to discuss the war and thus there was no need for a town hall meeting. When it was Dud's turn, he read from prepared remarks and told the senator that, "I want to speak to you about the notion of responsibility - the responsibility of citizens in a democracy. It is in the best interests of a democracy that it functions at the behest of an informed citizenry....You have a responsibility to listen, to hear your constituents......The longer you refuse to enable us to have this democratic right, the more convinced I become that you are in D.C. to do the bidding of the dinizens of K Street."

Sen. Collins shot back that she found Dud's comments "insulting" thus effectively redirecting the discussion from her refusal to meet with growing numbers of the public who oppose the war. Instead, she could now "justify" her refusal as being necessary because people like Dud had "insulted" her. The games politicians play to hide from the truth are quite astounding.

After spending the night of March 1 at the home of Dud and his wife Jean, he took me to speak to his class at the Liberty School in Blue Hill, an alternative high school that describes itself as a "democratic learning community." Dud also teaches a peace studies class there and this particular morning several parents joined the class to hear my talk. At one point during my talk with the students, while describing the likely consequences of a plutonium release after a space nuclear accident, I asked the class what they thought would happen. "We'd be f_ _ ked," one girl shouted. We all laughed and I said that in older company, I might have given the same answer.

As I left Blue Hill to make the three hour drive home it began to snow. The world always seems to slow down a bit when the snow comes, covering everything with pure beauty. As I drove, the view of the bay was breath taking and I was filled with delight as I thought of how lucky I was to be in Maine. I am thrilled to see such natural wonders and to have such a good friend like Dud Hendrick.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

BUSTED


Just back from a two day trip up north to do a couple speaking events. Will write more on that later. On the way home today in the car I heard the news on the radio that a secret government video was given to the Associated Press showing Bush getting a briefing about the severe consequences that were expected as Hurricane Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast last summer.

Bush is so busted. Now people can see for themselves how this lying SOB (Son of a Bush) just sat back and listened to the briefing and then had the government sit on their hands for a couple of days and let the people of New Orleans suffer. Was it because they are black? Sure it was.

Four days after the storm Bush told the country that, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that broke apart and led to the flooding of the city. The video proves that Bush was being told before the hurricane hit that the levees would not hold.

Now we have even more evidence that Bush must face impeachment hearings. He has betrayed the American people one more time, lied through his rotten teeth to us and now he is caught.

The question is what will the Congress do with this? What will the weak-willed Democrats do with this new evidence of deception by Bush? Every Democrat in Congress should be signing onto the Conyers impeachment resolution now. Bush has just been found, once again, complicit with murder.

Monday, February 27, 2006

THE CASE FOR IMPEACHMENT


The March edition of Harper's Magazine has a cover story calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush. It was written by Lewis Lapham, the editor of Harper's. (Click on the headline link above for the story.)

Lapham begins the article with a quote from Kurt Tucholsky that says, "A country is not only what it does - it is also what it puts up with, what it tolerates." Very well said indeed.

Lapham studied the impeachment resolution being offered by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). House Resolution 635, says Lapham is a description of the "Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq as the perpetration of a crime against the American people."

Asked what he hoped to prove by introducing the impeachment resolution, Conyers told Lapham, "To take away the excuse that we didn't know." So that two or four or ten years from now, if somebody should ask, "Where were you, Conyers, and where was the U.S. Congress?" when the Bush Administration declared the Constitution inoperative and revoked the license of parliamentary government, none of the company now present can plead ignorance or temporary insanity, can say that "somehow it escaped our notice" that the President was setting himself up as a supreme leader exempt from the rule of law.

"I don't think enough people know how much damage this administration can do to their civil liberties in a very short time. What would you have me do? Grumble and complain? Make cynical jokes? Throw up my hands and say that under the circumstances nothing can be done? At least I can muster the facts, establish a record, tell the story that ought to be front-page news," concluded Conyers.

And that is just what many Democrats have done. They have said there is nothing we can do. The Repubs control the House so an impeachment resolution is a waste of time - it will never pass. There is nothing we can do about Bush. You have to elect a Democratic Party controlled House of Representatives before we can do anything. And so they do nothing about major league law breaking by the Bush Administration. They wait for Godot to arrive. This only serves to embolden Bush, as he sees the majority of the Congress just sitting quietly aside on their hands while he shreds the Constitution and imperils the nation with an illegal and immoral war and drains the federal budget. He lines the pockets of his big corporate bosses and social progress in American is set back generations.

Rep. John Conyers is an American hero. So far 27 members of Congress have signed onto his impeachment resolution. Ask your Congressperson to join Rep. Conyers. The time is now to fight for the Constitution.