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, April 27, 2007

OUR MENTAL COLONIZATION

On some level we are what we have been taught. When my son Julian was just a tiny baby I realized that virtually everything I did and said was absorbed by him like a sponge. What a tremendous responsibility it is to be a parent.

I've spent most of my adult life trying to decolonize my mind. Between my own Republican military family's influences and living behind the barbed-wire gates of military bases, watching the airshows and parades all through my youth, I have a lot of militarism inside of me to sift through.

My own father's alcoholism and violent explosions gave me more to deal with. Climbing under desks, preparing for the nuclear attack from the Soviet Union that never came filled my little brain with more distorted images.

Corporate branding has to be washed away. How can I ever forget watching my Saturday baseball games on TV as a kid and having the beer commercials drummed into my head - from the land of sky blue waters........

Or how about the book series I read as a kid - the We Were There series of patriotic American warrior stories. We Were There at Lexington and Concord, The Alamo, The Battle of the Bulge. And then John Wayne movies, The Rifleman, Combat, Gunsmoke, and other TV shows filling my eager and half empty vessel with violent and imperialistic images of America saving the world from the Nazis and Communism. And today kids are learning that in order to fight the evils of terrorism we must take extraordinary security steps here at home to ensure our protection - even if they shred the constitution.

So I have created an image for myself to explain how it happened - lift the lid on the head, pour, close the lid. The mind is now open for colonization. Please come right in and have a seat and make yourself at home.

So what is the reverse image for me? Lift the lid, stand on my head and drain the mind? Dig into the dusty file cabinets and corners of my brain and dental floss out all unwanted images? What about the hard to find mental plaque that is tough to get out? Is there a mind wash, like a mouth wash, that I can just use to rinse and cleanse my mind?

The bottom line is that I want my mind back. The corporate society might control everything around me but at least I can own my own mind. So I continue with my effort to decolonize my mind. It's a long rocky road home. I'm trying to enjoy the walk as best I can.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

PERFECT ROVIAN STRATEGY BEING USED BY DEMOCRATS

There is a good editorial in my local paper, Times Record, today on the Star Wars issue. Good to see. You can read it by clicking on the link in the headline above.

This morning I got up early and drove to a high school outside of Augusta to speak at a program the school was sponsoring. It's a two-day teen issues event called Love and War and they have many different events planned during the program.

I was on a panel of four veterans who first watched the video Ground Truth with about 100 kids. Then each of us veterans spoke and answered questions. Two of us were against the war in Iraq and two of the guys supported it. The video was all about U.S. GI's talking about how they have been killing civilians in Iraq and when the two pro-war vets got up they called the video one-sided and said that in war sometimes you have to kill civilians. The other anti-war vet and I did a good job I think of laying out the arguments against the war and occupation. The audience seemed to split about 50-50 on the issue. It is quite alarming at how little most of these high school kids know about what is going on - especially when their necks are on the line and they will be paying for it the rest of their lives. We hope some seeds were planted.

The House of Representatives voted 218-208 today on the Iraq occupation supplemental bill conference committee report. Only 13 Democrats voted against it. According to the Washington Post, the bill sets a nonbinding goal of completing the troop pull out by April 1, 2008. Bush says he will veto the bill because it has the withdrawal language but all he has to do is ignore it anyway since it is only advisory.

I listened to some of the debate on C-SPAN and the Democrats were basically saying that their bill would do a better job of administering the occupation than the Republicans will. Not good enough for me.

A rally is planned in Portland and Bangor this Saturday by Win Without War, a Democratic party front group led by former Maine Democratic congressman Tom Andrews. The Democratic Party has been doing robo-calls all day to people in the Portland area begging them to turn out for the rally. At the rally they will attack Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for supporting the war and absolve our congressman Tom Allen, a Democrat, who has voted eight times now to fund the war. The Democrats are now unveiling a national strategy to attack Republicans for voting wrong on the war while the Dems have just voted to give Bush even more money than he asked for in the remaining months of 2007.
The Washington Post (April 26) ran a story entitled House Passes Iraq Pullout Timetable. They say, "To add pressure for a compromise, a coalition of liberal organizations, working in concert with Democratic leaders in Congress, is planning hundreds of rallies and dozens of news conferences to protest Bush's veto. Americans Against Escalation in Iraq [has anyone heard of this group before?] is organizing what it anticipates will be a historically large outpouring of sentiment against the Iraq war within hours of the president's veto, with news conferences just after the veto and 'signature rallies' -- some of which could draw thousands of people -- the next day in about 50 places represented by fence-sitting Republicans lawmakers."
This new Democratic Party effort in Maine is being organized by two organizations that have not been doing anti-war work in the past. The Maine People's Alliance and the League (formerly called The League of Pissed Off Voters) are both strongly allied to the Maine Democratic Party. Both these groups are now publicly supporting the Democrat's decision to fund the occupation thus cutting the legs out from under the peace community in the state that has been working hard on the war since before it began.

This is an indication that the Democrats are feeling the heat nationally and need some kind of public display of people saying they are the "real peace movement" and that those who have been sitting in the offices of congressional Democrats and criticizing their votes to fund the occupation do not speak for the "peace movement." So in their desperation to create a public relations victory around this Iraq occupation sell-out, the Democrats have just told the peace movement what they think of us. And what makes the Dems think intelligent peace activists will be anxious to support them in the future?
I am convinced that the peace movement has to be able to criticize either party as long as they continue to fund endless war. To make slaves of ourselves to any party, just so we can feel we are close to power, is a bad move.
We should remember that Martin Luther King had to put intense pressure on President John F. Kennedy to get him to support civil rights legislation. King was put under heavy pressure to back off the street protests in the south and let Kennedy take care of things in Washington. King refused and the pressure in the streets payed off in the end.
Politicians always want to relieve the pressure on themselves. The worst thing a movement can do is crawl into bed with either party - especially as we approach the 2008 elections. The Dems want to use the occupation as a hammer on the heads of the Republicans in the race for the White House.
The Democrats don't intend to end this war anytime soon. But they need to appear like they are trying.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

HANDING OUT LEAFLETS ON THE STREET


I spent six hours on the street yesterday handing out leaflets letting the public know how our congressman just voted on the latest Iraq occupation supplemental. It was a beautiful warm sunny day, almost like we had skipped spring and jumped right into summer. The streets were filled with folks in shorts, sandals and T-shirts. As the day went on more of our friends turned out to help and by 4:00 pm we had about 30 of us holding banners and signs and distributing over 1,000 leaflets. One TV station came to cover our event which culminated with a speak out.

We set up a good portable sound system that was loud enough that people a block away could hear the speakers. I noticed people standing on corners across the street listening intently as different people talked about the lies being told to justify funding the occupation, the human and social costs of the Iraq quagmire, what it was like to have a son come home from Iraq with PTSD, the very personal reasons that motivate people toward action, and the need for the public to become engaged in this issue.
One young man who sat and listened to us asked if he could say a few words. He spoke movingly about a friend who had just married a woman whose brother had been killed in Iraq. Now the new husband was being sent to Iraq. A young boy about 4 years old, there in the park with his dad, also asked if he could speak and he declared into the microphone that "George Bush needs to stop this war." The shortest and best speech of the day I told the assembled.

As usual many people passed by and did not want to make eye contact or take a leaflet. But many others were quite eager to stop and smile and give a kind word. Once, while I was engaged in conversation with another person, a young woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked for a leaflet. That rarely ever happens.

When I first arrived with Karen Wainberg at noon I found it hard to get folks to take a leaflet. Then by 4:00 when we had a larger group handing out leaflets on every corner in the vicinity, it suddenly became easier to hand them out. There really was a herd mentality at work. People seem afraid to be seen as taking a leaflet from the lone protester. But when there is a larger number of people then it must be OK because so many others are involved.

It makes me take notice that courage is in short supply in America today. We need more political inquisitiveness and more political courage.
-For a larger readable version of the cartoon above just click on it.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

STAR WARS TEST SET FOR MONDAY

The Pentagon is set to test a satellite on Monday that is part of a program being run by the "Missile Defense Agency". The launch will take place from the NASA Wallops Island Facility in Virginia.

Official news releases say, "The Near Field Infrared Experiment (NFIRE) mission involves launching a four-stage Minotaur I rocket carrying a satellite to collect scientific data that will be used to help with the development of future missile defense technology efforts."

First off we have to always remember that "missile defense" is a ruse. The Pentagon sticks the word "defense" on their Star Wars program so the American people, when they might hear the words in between reality TV shows, do not get alarmed. "Oh," the people will say, "I don't need to worry about this because they are protecting us from the bad guys. Honey hand me another bag of chips."

All of these programs are now basically testing space technologies that ultimately will allow the Pentagon to locate targets in space, to hone in on the targets, and then to develop the ability to close on targets and destroy them. Sold as defense, the ultimate goal is offense.

All we need to do is recall the words from the Air Force Space Command's Strategic Master Plan: FY06 and Beyond. In the document the military says, "The ability to gain space superiority (the ability to exploit space while selectively disallowing it to adversaries) is critically important and maintaining space superiority is an essential prerequisite for success in modern warfare."

The document goes on to state, "Simply, we must be able to quickly subjugate any space capability any adversary can field while maintaining our own. This includes the infrastructure and enablers as well as the 'pointy end of the spear.'"

The bottom line is this NFIRE test is one more important step in testing the technology that will some day allow the U.S. military to place offensive "spears" in space. Thus preemptive attack on other nation's space assets will become a high priority for the Pentagon as they seek to "control and dominate space."

The Pentagon has long bragged that Star Wars will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet Earth. Virtually every Pentagon Star Wars space project is now many times over budget. Massive expenditures are needed to continue the research and development program for space weaponization.

Where will the funds come from? Medicare, Medicaid, education, public transit, environmental clean-up, and the like will all have to be cut back in the years ahead to pay for Star Wars.

The days of the Pentagon getting a free ride on "missile defense" programs must end.

Will you help us expand the consciousness of the public to call for an end to Star Wars research and development funding?