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, March 09, 2007

THE OCCUPATION CONTINUES - IN IRAQ AND HERE AT HOME

It was a very cold day in Bangor, Maine two days ago when our friends in the peace movement walked from their Congressman Mike Michaud's office, to Sen. Olympia Snowe's office, and then finally on to the office of Sen. Susan Collins. They went as part of the occupation project, the third such action in Maine in the last couple of weeks.

Rep. Mike Michaud has voted against the occupation funding the last two times and says he will do so again. The two Republican senators, Snowe and Collins, continue to vote for all things military - in spite of their finely crafted and deceptive national reputation as moderates. Susan Collins has steadfastly refused to meet with anyone from the peace movement, particularly in a public meeting, saying she does not like big crowds. (Then why is she in politics you ask?)

Once the folks got to the federal building that hosts Sen. Collins office, only six people were allowed up to her inner sanctum. They went up and stayed. Come 5:00 pm they were arrested for not leaving. Six more, sitting in the lobby downstairs, were also arrested for refusing to leave at the appointed hour. All 12 were taken to jail where they paid a bail and were released. (Click on the link in the headline above for excellent photos from the action.)

Last night in the Washington Post I read that the Democrats in Washington have crafted a "compromise" that says they would agree to leave the troops in Iraq til August of 2008. So the earlier talk of bring the troops home by the end of 2007 has now shifted to 2008. And with the election coming in November of 2008, don't hold your breath waiting for anything to happen before then.

I hate to say it, but I think the Dems want to just sit back and watch the Iraq quagmire fester til 2008. There are 21 Republican senators up for reelection in '08 so the Dems strategy appears to be - "just hold on, sit tight, let it get worse and the voters will have no where else to go except to vote for us".

This is a cynical and ugly reality and people should now begin talking in their local communities about lining up Independent or Green Party candidates to run against both these two mainstream war parties in 2008.

How much longer will you support this good cop - bad cop game they play in Washington? Time to break free of this electoral slave system the corporate parties have created.

Wake up and be free!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

ANNUAL DUES REMINDER

This is the time of year we remind our friends and supporters to pay their annual membership dues in the Global Network. Your donations help keep us doing our peace work. Without you we would not be able to do what we do.

Instead we'd be out hauling wood in the Maine countryside or washing dishes at a local joint. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It's honest work but I'd rather be organizing.

We ask individuals and organizations to pay what they can best afford within the sliding scale of $10 - $100. That way we try to make it fair for everyone - spread the burden around evenly.

We like to think we get more out of a dollar than most organizations do. It's pretty amazing that we can run an effective and highly visible international network on about $75,000 a year. But somehow we manage. Thank the gods for the Internet!

The Global Network is a non-profit organization and your donations are tax deductible. You can send a check in the mail to Global Network, PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011 or you can use the red Donate Now! button in the column to the left - just scroll down - to make a credit card donation on-line.

Either way we deeply appreciate your support. And if you need any wood hauled, you know who to call.

Thanks.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

THE PERSECUTION OF SAMI AL-ARIAN

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Mr. Gonzales:

We are writing out of complete frustration and embarrassment about how our nation is treating Dr. Sami Al-Arian.

We have been following his case for many years and were quite surprised to find that after he was essentially found innocent by a jury in Florida, our government continues to pursue and prosecute him. We've read that he is now being taken from jail to jail, often under horrible conditions, and is being made to endure even more prison time.

It appears to us that the U.S. justice system has become a mean spirited and vindictive system. Rather than recognizing the ruling of the Florida jury and letting Al-Arian go free as should happen, he is being whipsawed by continual judicial harassment. This is un-American and must stop.

We have sent word about his current treatment to everyone we know and have contact with because we think that people in this country, and around the world, should know that justice in America is a thing of the past.

We hope that you will prove us wrong. We hope that you will find the courage to stop this never-ending persecution of a man who has been tried and found innocent in a U.S. court of law.

Bring justice back to America now. Give us a reason to believe that America is in fact different from other repressive totalitarian regimes around the world that ignore the rule of law.

Stop using Dr. Al-Arian as a tool to increase hatred and fear of Muslim people.

We eagerly await your reply.

Sincerely,

Bruce K. Gagnon
Mary Beth Sullivan
Bath, ME

(Click on the link in the headline above for the full sad story.)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

WE ARE IN DISTRESS

Congress is now preparing to vote in the next few days on Bush's request for $93 billion more for Iraq occupation for fiscal year 2007. It will pass and the Democrats are saying, instead of cutting the request, that they want to raise it by $5 billion.

But what is even more mind blowing to me is that at this very same time Congress is also starting to work on the fiscal year 2008 Iraq occupation request. Bush is requesting $142 billion for 2008. North Dakota Democrat, Sen. Kent Conrad who is the Senate Budget Committee Chairman, just said that "Our caucus feels strongly that we should go with the president's numbers" on 2008 war costs. "We are going to provide actually more funding, because we think the president's budget has understated the war costs over the five-year period," Conrad told the media.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) told reporters that cutting the Iraq occupation funding was "nothing that any of us are considering."

"There's a fine line that I hope will not be blurred between micromanaging the war and assuring accountability," said Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-South Dakota). "I don't think we should be overreacting to public opinion polls."

Reading this really burns me up. The Democrats are actually getting worse as time drags on. Hard as it is to believe that they could get worse, they are now doing Bush's bidding for him. And they are basically saying, hey let's not get too wrapped up listening to the public!

All of this comes at the very time that new statistics are showing major growth in the numbers of American people moving into deep poverty.

Any anti-poverty, human services organizations, worth their weight in salt should be screaming about this utter waste of our tax dollars on the occupation of Iraq. Where are those voices today?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

LETTER TO REP. ALLEN

March 4, 2007

Representative Tom Allen
57 Exchange Street, Suite 302
Portland, Maine 04101

Dear Congressman Allen:

We, the undersigned, are thirteen citizens who were arrested on February 21st, 2007, while conducting a peaceful demonstration at your constituent office in Portland. At the time of our arrest, we all received “Criminal Trespass Notices” from the Portland Police Department, indicating that a request had been made to the Department – ostensibly from you or your staff – for an order barring us indefinitely from the premises of your Portland office. The primary purpose of this letter is to inquire whether it is indeed your position that we are no longer welcome at your Portland office.

We thirteen are people of conscience. We share an abiding love of our country, and a deep concern for humanity. The peaceful action that we undertook on February 21st was both considered and deliberate, and we have no cause for regret. Our attempt to get through to you on that day, to move you in mind and heart, was our way of honoring those who have suffered and died in Iraq and at home as the result of ongoing U.S. aggression and occupation.

The views we have vigorously attempted to communicate to you about U.S. involvement in Iraq, through every peaceful means available to citizens in a free society, are a matter of unwavering conviction. We recognize that you do not currently share such views, particularly as they relate to the moral urgency demanding an immediate end to all funding for the Iraq War and Occupation. However, we expect that you do share our devotion to the constitutionally guaranteed rights of speech, assembly, and petition for redress of greivances which are designed to breathe strength and vitality into American democracy.

Consequently, we thirteen are both puzzled and disturbed by the order your office has requested from the Portland Police, banning us from the premises of your “constituent” office at any time for any reason. For better or worse, we live in a representative democracy, and you are the individual who has been duly elected to represent us in Congress. When you cast your vote time and again to finance this immoral and illegal war and occupation, you do so on behalf of the citizens of the First District of Maine. For that reason, we consider our rights of speech, with you as the audience, to be fundamental and indispensable. The order you have requested from the Portland Police Department, which has been issued to each of us in writing, is an unconstitutional restriction on our First Amendment rights of speech and assembly. For that reason, we request that you contact the Portland Police Department immediately, asking that the orders be rescinded. We also ask that you formally respond to this letter, confirming in writing whether we thirteen are, or are not, welcome at your Portland office.

We thank you and urgently await your reply.


Sincerely,
Bath-Brunswick Occupation Project Affinity Group

Susan Andersen
Portland

Stephen Carroll
Portland

Kathe Chipman
Harpswell

Carolyn Coe
Blue Hill

Christine A. DeTroy
Brunswick

Mary Donnelly
Peaks Island

Bruce K. Gagnon
Bath

Mair Honan
Portland

Dexter Kamilewicz
Orr's Island

Natasha Mayers
Whitefield

Mary Beth Sullivan
Bath

Karen Wainberg
Bath

Rhonda Wilson
Portland


cc: Maine media outlets
Maine anti-war activists