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, November 10, 2006

REVIEWING ESTABLISHMENT TALKING POINTS FOR WAR DEBATE


Last night I took notes while watching the talking heads on the news programs. They were discussing what the Dems would/should do now that they control Congress.

It is clear to me that the American people are being prepared to lower their expectations now that the Dems will run the show in Congress. Here is a sampling:

* Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said that we must now "narrow the parameters of the debate" about Iraq. We should know in a year if a new policy is working in Iraq.

* Don Haass from the Council on Foreign Relations said there will be some troop reductions, that we will move troops out of Baghdad, sit our troops at the new permanent bases so that we have fewer casualties, guard Iraq's borders, and work on diplomacy more with Syria and Iran to get their help. The U.S. military role in Iraq would be "limited".

* Newly elected Sen. Claire McCaskell (D-MO) told Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball that she'd likely support John Bolton's nomination at the U.N. (which has still not been approved by the Senate) even though he has pledged to destroy the U.N. Luckily it was reported today that Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chaffe today said he would work to block the nomination. Sen. Chaffe, a real moderate, was defeated for reelection by a Democrat.

* Time Magazine's Jay Carney said the U.S. couldn’t leave Iraq because it would create "catastrophic chaos". We must get out "in a reasonable manner" he maintained.

* Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) who has authored the "redeployment" plan calling for U.S. troops to be moved to Kuwait, where we can bomb them from a distance and send Special Forces troops back into Iraq as needed, said there would be no cuts in Iraq war funding from the Democrats. He also said that the military now needs a lot of money to "resupply and retool" the Pentagon after they have had so much hardware destroyed in Iraq. I was once in Murtha's office years ago. He has all kinds of models of weapons systems displayed throughout his office. He is a true friend of the military industrial complex.

* My own “liberal” congressman, Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) was on the radio yesterday and he said as long as the troops are in Iraq he feels a "moral obligation" to continue to fund the occupation. He is calling for a phased withdrawal sometime in the next year and he also supports the Murtha redeployment plan. I read today that CNN's exit polls of Maine voters revealed that 65% of them opposed the Iraq war.

Bush's nomination of Robert Gates to replace Rumsfeld at the Pentagon must be strongly resisted by the peace movement. Click on the link above and see what former CIA veteran Ray McGovern has to say about Gates while he was at the CIA. McGovern says Gates was "the one most responsible for institutionalizing political corruption of intelligence analysis". He would fit right in with the current crowd in Washington.

So to me the early signs are that the Dems, despite the fact that they rode the peace movement momentum into power, intend to play ball with Bush and keep the Iraq occupation going. Most importantly, the Dems plan to keep the military production process alive and well in order to ensure the military empire is well equipped and active.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE PEACE MOVEMENT?

  Posted by PicasaThe Washington Post reported this morning that the Democratic Party's "foreign policy establishment sees a precipitous withdrawal [from Iraq] as potentially damaging to both the country's and the party's interests."

The battle is on.

The new speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is saying that the Dems will govern "from the middle." Impeachment is not on the table she recently said.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), who led the effort on behalf of Democratic Party House candidates, is saying that they can't allow the party's liberal wing to dominate the agenda.

The changes in Congress are largely due to huge opposition (62%) to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Again, quoting today's Washington Post, "The passion of the antiwar movement helped propel party activists in this election year."

How will the peace movement in America, that just turned itself nearly completely over to the Democratic Party, be rewarded for its loyalty?

"Many Democratic lawmakers have signed on to a vague plan for a phased withdrawal from Iraq, but the party remains divided between a base eager to get out soon and a foreign policy establishment that sees a precipitous withdrawal as potentially damaging to both the country's and the party's interests," the Washington Post concludes.

Pelosi is already pointing to a "Bi-partisan study group" on Iraq that is co-chaired by Texas oilman, and former Republican secretary of state, James Baker. Don’t expect any surprises here.

Most of the new Democratic Party gains in the House were conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats who do not support immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Instead these new Dems, controlled by Bill Clinton's Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), will steer the country on a basic status quo course. Their excuse will be - - hey we have a national election in two years and we want to take back the White House. So we have to go slow now so we don't alienate the public.

My translation - the corporations will control the new Democratic Party Congress and we will see no real basic change.

So what does the peace movement do now?

We must continue to call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. We must call for a 50% cut in military spending and conversion of the military industrial complex. We must call for an end to Star Wars research and development funding which now stands at about $10 billion a year.

We must also call for investigations of Bush-Cheney for impeachable offenses. We must call for repeal of the Patriot Act and the recent Military Commissions Act - the torture bill.

We have to call out loudly and strongly for universal national health care and for new federal election laws that sets one national standard to ensure fair voting.

There are many more things that must now be advanced by the peace, justice, environmental, labor, and women's movements. And we must be impatient with the Democrats.

One last word here about liberal activists who supported the Dems fully knowing that many of them have been supporting the funding for the occupation of Iraq. I disagreed with this strategy of knee-bending loyalty to a party that does not deserve such support. But it is done now.

To these liberals peace activists I say this. Don't sell us all out now by going easy on the Dems. Don't tell us to wait, give them a chance, give them two years, let them take back the White House before we demand too much from them.

Don't sell yourself out. You have helped to create this new Democratic Party control of Congress. Get off your knees and now demand that they do something. Force the Dems to respond to you. If you don't you will have let down the long-suffering Iraqi people who are dying at the hands of U.S. military power. Don't let the GI's down who have died or suffered serious injury in Iraq for a war that was illegal in the first place. We must keep fighting, harder than ever, to bring this mad war to an end.

The battle has just begun. Where will you stand?

Monday, November 06, 2006

THE MILK IS BAD FROM ROCKET POLLUTION


The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has released its long anticipated report on the human health effects of perchlorates, a byproduct of rocket fuel. Perchlorates, which are a common pollutant near military sites, have recently BEEN FOUND IN DRINKING WATER IN 35 STATES AS WELL AS IN 93 PERCENT OF LETTUCE AND MILK.

Along with the report, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set drinking water standards indicating that perchlorates are roughly TEN TIMES MORE TOXIC to humans than the Department of Defense has been claiming. Perchlorates can inhibit thyroid function, cause birth defects and lower IQs, and are considered particularly dangerous to children. Monitoring wells across the U.S. are now finding perchlorate levels as high as 30,000 times what the EPA indicates would be safe exposure.

To avoid liability, the Pentagon is currently pressuring Congress to pass a new bill that states the military does not have to adhere to any environmental regulations (as a matter of national security).

Please take 30 seconds to send a quick online letter urging your Congressperson to protect the nation's food and water by reducing perchlorate pollution. Take action and learn more about this issue by clicking on the link in the headline above.

So forget about going to the health food store and buying organic milk and cheese. The reality is that when the cows eat the grass and drink the water it is practically all contaminated.

Protest and survive. We must fight now to protect the future generations. We don't have the luxury of walking away from this.

Send the letter today!