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

Thursday, June 28, 2007

FROM HOT-LANTA

The U.S. Social Forum began with a wonderful two-hour march through downtown Atlanta (hot-lanta) and had to have more than 5,000 in it. The local newspaper reported 1,000 and in the first sentence of the article used the words "left-wing" to describe the event. Just checked the Atlanta Journal-Constitution web site to get the picture above and they already have their article for Friday mornings paper posted. The first words of the new article are "Karl Marx". So you can see how Atlanta "officialdom" is taking to the event.

We marched past the Grady hospital yesterday and a large delegation of hospital workers were outside with banners calling on the county not to shut down the hospital. I was told it is the only public hospital that serves poor people. Now it is in danger of closing. Losing money we were told.

The march was quite wonderful, led by a large indigenous delegation of native people and was full of black, Latino, disabled, and other groups as well. Our friends from Atlanta said that few people in the local community came to the march. So obviously the local newspaper has likely been red-baiting the event in advance making local "liberals" afraid to turn out. But in spite of that things are off to a good start.

I went to two workshops today and MB and I do our space and military economy workshops on Friday. Unfortunately the workshops are spread out all over town in different venues which makes it hard to choose which one and where you will go. Otherwise it is a great event.

And yes it is hot as hell here.

On the way back to the Buddhist temple tonight MB and I ran into former Rep. Cynthia McKinney at the subway station. We said hello, reminded her that we had organized a speaking event for her in Gainesville, Florida five years ago. I asked her if it was true that she was thinking of running for president as a Green. She did not deny the rumor.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A FEW THINGS AS I AM OUT THE DOOR

We head out very early in the morning for Atlanta and the U.S. Social Forum (see below for more details.) Will be gone for five days. Not sure how often I will get to the blog but will try to do what I can.

The Washington Post has an article today about Dick Cheney and the growing GOP problem of what to do with him. They report, "The big question right now among Republicans is how to remove Vice President Cheney from office. Even before this week's blockbuster series in The Post, discontent in Republican ranks was rising."

"As the reputed architect of the war in Iraq, Cheney is viewed as toxic, and as the administration's leading proponent of an attack on Iran, he is seen as dangerous. As long as he remains vice president, according to this thinking, he has the potential to drag down every member of the party -- including the presidential nominee -- in next year's elections."

It is pretty obvious that the Dems are just sitting back and watching the wound fester. Instead of moving forward to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their crimes the Dems are feeling fine about letting the whole thing dribble out.

The Post article says the Repubs just might move Cheney out soon, bring in someone "fresh", and then have the new guy be the top contender for the GOP presidential candidate in 2008. All the more reason the Dems need to bring the impeachment charges to the House floor on Cheney before he slips out the back door.

I saw during Ronald Reagan's tenure how the Iran-Contra Scandal was allowed to go away without anyone seriously facing any real penalties for their crimes against the Constitution. It's amazing how the powerful seem to get away with their big crimes but the average Joe out there has to pay the price with years of hard time when they make a mistake.

I heard yesterday that the U.S. Postal Service was trying to privatize some postal carrier routes in the Tampa-St Pete area in Florida. If any of you reading this hear of anything like that please let me know. My friends who work in the post office are interested.


Our Maine Senate race in 2008 is going to be very interesting. Incumbant Republican Susan Collins will be facing Democrat Tom Allen. Allen has been the member of the House of Representatives for the southern half of the state - including my community. He has voted 7 out of 8 times to fund the Iraq occupation, he refuses to support impeachment, and he does not support single-payer universal health care. He recently told a friend that Dems might appear to be "vengeful" if they pursued impeachment. There is a possibility that an Independent progressive candidate will be running in that race as well. Should turn out to be very interesting. The Dems are going to pour big money into the race as they see it as a possible pick-up. So far the Dems strategy has been to start running media ads critical of Sen. Collins for voting to fund Bush's war. It's amazing how the Dems seem to lack a sense of shame.

I have a cable access TV show that now runs in eight Maine communities. Today I taped my 56th show interviewing Kathleen McGee, a well-known social justice activist here in the state who has worked for years to ensure that social progress be supported at the state level. She said today that the Dems in Maine are wanting to cut the budget which means education and health care will be further cut. They are also wanting to give more tax breaks to corporations. You can watch some of my recent shows just by clicking on the TV icon on the left side of the blog home page. I call the show This Issue in memory of a dear artist friend who started a newspaper with me by the same name in the early 1980's in Orlando, Florida. He died unexpectedly in the mid-80's and was a wonderful soul. John Beardsley was his name.

Talk with you all again soon. Stay at it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

BUSH - PUTIN MEETING IN MAINE

George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin will be meeting in Maine on July 1-2. A New England regional protest will be held on July 1 in Kennebunkport and the planned march will take folks right up to the Bush family compound.

The protesters will be calling for impeachment of Bush for the many obvious reasons that most of us are familiar with. They should do so. They will call for an end of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. And they should.

Sadly I won't be able to be there as Mary Beth and I will be down in Atlanta for the U.S. Social Forum during that same time. We will be doing presentations about Star Wars and economic conversion of the military industrial complex in two different workshops being organized by WILPF. While in Atlanta we will be staying at a Buddhist temple run by a monk and nun who we have been friends with for many years. Mary Beth walked with them from El Salvador to Washington on a peace walk in the 90's and I organized many peace walks in Florida years ago that they always led - chanting and drumming at the front of the walk. Their order, called Nipponzan Myohoji, is best known for organizing peace walks all over the world. It will be good to spend time with our dear friends again.

If I was at the July 1 Kennebunkport protest I'd be carrying signs and banners about Bush's plan to deploy so-called "missile defense" systems in Poland and the Czech Republic as part of the U.S. plan to "control and dominate" the Earth and space. This topic is likely to be the chief point of contention at the Bush-Putin meeting here in Maine. Unfortunately, not enough people in the peace movement are aware of the issue and do not see how the Bush deployments are a key trigger to the start of a new and severe arms race between the U.S. and Russia.