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, July 14, 2007

HANGING OUT IN THE LIBRARY

Artist Robert Shetterly was at the Brunswick (Maine) library last night. He was there to talk about his series of paintings called Americans Who Tell the Truth. I was there too sitting in a chair and also hanging on the wall.

It's just a bit intimidating to see folks looking at your painting and then turning around and staring at you. It's indeed a honor to be hanging out with such company but also serves to remind you that you have much yet to do to earn the honor.

Natasha Mayers, a great political artist here in Maine, was also painted by Rob for the series. A while back, at a similar show in Portland, Natasha and I were hanging next to each other on the wall. She told me she wakes up each day and says to herself, "What can I do today to earn the description of being an American who tells the truth?" I can relate.

Rob told fascinating stories last night about various people that he has painted. Our local paper has a great interview with Rob that is worth reading. He tells a story about Sojourner Truth in the interview that is a gem.

Last night someone asked why he painted former President Eisenhower looking away from the viewer. Most of Rob's paintings have the subject looking directly at you. Rob said that he painted Eisenhower because of his profound statement about the military industrial complex. But, Rob concluded, not everything Ike did was great. He mentioned how Ike had the CIA take out Iran's elected leader Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 and return the Shah to power. Imagine how different the Middle East might be today if the U.S. hadn't done that Rob said.

The New York Times was to later report that in, “The [1953 Iranian] operation, code-named TP-Ajax, was the blueprint for a succession of C.I.A. plots to foment coups and destabilize governments during the cold war -- including the agency's successful coup in Guatemala in 1954 and the disastrous Cuban intervention known as the Bay of Pigs in 1961.”

So Rob said he painted Eisenhower looking away and he put a dark shadow under his right eye in order to make the point, at least to himself, that despite the fact that Eisenhower did make such an important statement that he was flawed.

Rob reminded the audience that none of the 100 truth tellers he painted were perfect people. In fact that is sort of the whole point of it. His paintings show us that if we are going to have "real democracy" in our land then regular, everyday people can and have been stepping forward for hundreds of years in our country trying to make true this claim that the USA is a place of liberty, fairness, and democracy.

Sure it is honor to be painted and to be hanging in the library. But it is an even bigger honor to be a part of the great and historic movement in this country to give ones life for a larger purpose. It is an honor to work with so many wonderful people who dedicate themselves to making America and the world real. We are all truthtellers.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

LBJ ERA PASSES ON

Lady Bird Johnson died yesterday at the age of 94. Her husband Lyndon (LBJ) died in 1973.

The whole LBJ story continues to fascinate me. I watched the CBS TV show 60 Minutes in 1972 and I will never forget Mike Wallace's interview with LBJ. The former president had shoulder length hair which by that time had turned white. He was directly asked by Wallace who killed Kennedy and in a very remorseful voice, from one who was soon to "meet his maker," he said the whole story would come out in 20 years. We are still waiting.

Just recently I came across this great interview with LBJ's mistress Madeleine Duncan Brown. In this video, which you can watch by clicking on this link, Brown tells the very detailed and interesting story about their 21 year relationship and all the key players who were linked to LBJ.

More importantly though Brown talks candidly about LBJ's active role in plotting the assassination of JFK. She also talks about the Mafia's role in the killing and speaks quite a bit about Jack Ruby, the mobster who killed Lee Harvey Oswald.

Brown also talks about the Vietnam war and how the Texas-based Brown & Root corporation made big money off the war.

Ms. Brown and LBJ had a son together in 1950 and she reveals how the child was supported by LBJ through his lawyers.

I've always believed that LBJ was involved in the JFK assassination. LBJ was connected to the mob, to the weapons industry, and to those who would benefit from a protracted war in Vietnam.

Some call it conspiracy. I call it a coup d' e'tat. The U.S. has been run by these rogue elements of the oligarchy ever since.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

COST OVERRUNS MAKE "WELFARE QUEENS" LOOK AWFUL TAME

The newspapers yesterday reported on major problems with the Navy's shipbuilding program.

A San Antonio Express-News story elaborated on the Northrop Grumman situation, saying the Navy's new amphibious ship's $1.85 billion price tag is nearly three times what was projected. The Texas newspaper also reported that the USS San Antonio, part of what the Navy calls its LPD-17 program, received failing or barely passing grades "in everything from its steering, computer and magnetic compass systems to food processing equipment in the chef's mess" during sea trial inspections.

This is the same old news.

The aerospace industry has been having the same problem for years. Virtually every single space technology program - from missiles to satellites - is hugely over budget.

One example is the International Space Station. Originally it was to cost taxpayers $10 billion. Today the price tag has grown to $100 billion and it is still not finished. Imagine the cost by the time of completion, if ever completed. And then if that is not enough, some scientists are predicting that the space station will be destroyed by orbiting space junk - flying through space at 18,000 mph - even before it is completed. Ugh!

The entire military industrial complex is way out of control. What will Congress do to stop this utter nonsense? Virtually nothing. The Republicans and the Democrats both like the campaign donations they get from the weapons corporations. They like the campaign donations they get from the unions representing workers at these military production facilities.

The Congressional solution? Put another band-aid on it and turn them loose.

If this was a "welfare mom" or a social program misspending a few thousand dollars there would be hell to pay. And I promise you there would be action taken. Severe action.

Back in the 1980's, when the government began whittling away at social spending, I lived in Florida. One of my senators, a Democrat named Lawton Chiles, was chair of the Senate Budget Committee. He did well publicized investigations of the CETA job training program to identify "waste, fraud, and abuse" in the system. They did big national stories about some community organization misusing $45,000. They used a few cases like this to basically destroy a good national jobs program for poor people.

Sen. Lawton Chiles never saw a weapons contract that he didn't fall in love with. The story remains the same today.

We in the peace movement have to go after the real welfare queens. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Bechtel Corporation, and Raytheon are just a few of the big boys who need to be investigated, spanked, and shut down.

It's time to call out a welfare queen when we see one.

And by the way, does Al-Qaeda have a Navy or a Space Command?

Monday, July 09, 2007

WATCH DEAL MAKERS CLOSELY

We are being warned that Congress returned to work today after their July 4 holiday. Watch out. More of your money is soon to be shipped off to Iraq.

Informed speculation is that the Democrats are going to agree to a shell game gambit by Bush. Remember that recently he "surged" the troops in Iraq by sending in about 20,000 extra troops. Bush is now likely going to agree to a "cut" in troops, to come home just before the 2008 elections. (Republicans are putting pressure on him to make it look like he is doing something positive.)

Both parties will declare victory and say they have brought the troops home. Occupation over. But what is likely to happen is the following:

  • Most members of Congress may support a troop reduction but settle for a modified version of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. They may vote to bring "combat" troops home, but allow Bush to keep tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq to "fight terrorism," protect U.S. installations and train Iraqi troops. And they are doing nothing to address the growing numbers of U.S. mercenaries involved in the occupation -- mercenaries now outnumber troops in Iraq.

According to the Washington Post "Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) are seeking bipartisan support for an effort to force U.S. troops out of combat roles, restricting them to fighting terrorism, securing Iraq's borders and training Iraqi forces. The amendment would not require troop withdrawals, but because fewer troops would be needed for the new missions, tens of thousands could probably come home, Collins said."

  • United for Peace & Justice is concerned that many members of Congress will be willing to open the door to a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq in exchange for the near-term withdrawal of some troops. According to the Wall Street Journal, "Defense Secretary Robert Gates and some allies in the Bush administration are seeking to build bipartisan political support for a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq by moving toward withdrawing significant numbers of troops from Iraq by the end of President Bush's term".

So people need to start raising sand about this now before it is too late.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to the offices of your senators and representative. Find out who your members of Congress are here: http://capwiz.com/fconl/dbq/officials/

But don't stop there. Congress will be voting in September on another $145 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations. They will only act to stop this madness if people are in the streets and creating enormous pressure on them not to play along with this evil game.

How much longer will American citizens allow this wound to fester? At a cost of $10 billion a month, how much longer can we afford to fork out that kind of money?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

IT'S STILL TICKING

It's amazing to me how this video, produced in 2003, still stands up today. After all this time, the story that we tell about how the Pentagon wants to move the arms race into space, is still relevant.

We still sell copies of the video and people can now watch it on-line at Google video. As I write this blog entry we've had 36,257 views. Not bad.

It's true I had a bit more hair on my head back in 2003 and my hair was not so gray.

If you haven't watched it yet please do. And help us spread the word about it. It's really a very good tool to help folks understand what the plans are for U.S. space "control and domination."