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....

My Photo
Name:
Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Thursday, September 27, 2007

EELS DIE AS DAM OWNERS STAND AND WATCH

I taped my latest cable TV show today that runs on eight stations in Maine. My show today featured Ed Friedman, chairman of the Friends of Merrymeeting Bay (FOMM), a local environmental group fighting to stop the killing of eels and other fish as they try to navigate Maine's rivers.

Most of the dam owners in Maine, controlled by big corporations, won't spend the money to put in technologies like ladders and other devices to help the eels from being destroyed in the turbines inside the dams. These greedy corporate entities, who use the public rivers for profit without paying "rent" for use of the public waterway, could care less about the consequences of their dams. FOMM has been appealing to the state Department of Environmental Regulation and the governor for a long time but the state government is pretty much under the control of these same greedy corporations. Ed calls it the Department of Economic Regulation.

So the FOMM has gone into court to try to get the judicial system to help with this problem but that door is increasingly closed and locked shut as well. In the meantime, as the eel population diminishes, people fail to see the link to the declining fish populations in the ocean - the eels are a source of food for the larger fish. It's all connected.

Ed says that the 3rd and 6th grade kids get it right away. But the big time boys, the corporate types and the politicians they own, can't see it because they are blinded by their love for the almightly dollar. Or as the Native Americans called it, the green frog skin. The white man is sick and is killing his mother earth.

(Click on the link in the headline above to watch the entire show.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TALKING POLITICS IN JAIL

We had a great rally yesterday in downtown Portland. Excellent speakers, good music, and even poetry from the newly crowned City of Portland poet laureate Martin Steingesser. We handed out 750 leaflets that explained to the public our reasons for protesting and urged folks to call our congressman and urge his support for impeachment.

While people listened we passed around 250 copies of the letter we wanted to deliver to our congressman Tom Allen and asked folks to sign it.

At 1:30 pm we crossed the street and 150 climbed the three flights of stairs to Allen's office and one by one, as you can see in the photo above, they handed their letter to Allen's staff. This process took just over one hour to complete. People very patiently waited in the stairway until it was their turn. The whole thing was very moving and the spirit of the people was magical.

At the end two of our folks read of the names of those who had signed the letters out on the street but could not stay to personally deliver it. In all 250 letters were delivered.

By 2:30 pm about 20 of us settled into Allen's office and began reading the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. One in our group read a detailed list of impeachable offenses committed by Bush-Cheney.

The office officially closed at 5:30 pm and Allen's staff told us we had to leave. We continued with our readings. Then at 6:00 pm the police came and gave us our last warning. At that point those not willing to be arrested left the office and eight of us were then handcuffed and taken down the elevator to the paddy wagon waiting in the street. A good crowd had formed and folks cheered as we were put in the police vehicle.

Our time in jail was short, all but one of us paid the $40 bail bond and were released around 10:00 pm. One person, Kate Chipman, refused to pay the bail and spent the night in jail. I'd venture to guess she will be released from jail today.

As we gathered last night in the jail lobby I noticed one of our group of eight talking with a jail guard in a corner. Come to find out the guard was saying that he completely agreed with us. The guard who released me spent a considerable amount of time talking with me about the declining condition of the nation and I was later to learn that each person that was released by him had a similar experience.

He told me that he was a Republican and had been in the Air Force. I told him I had been the Vice-Chair of the Okaloosa County Florida Young Republican Club in 1968 and had entered the Air Force in 1971. We talked about the true role of the U.S. military today - that of protector of global corporate interests. He said to me, "I don't want to believe you but I think you are right."

One man who spent time in the jail holding cell with us had seen our protest on the jail TV and then when the eight of us were brought into the jail for booking he noticed our bright orange T-shirts and was thrilled to meet us. He told us he was a handy man who lives in Bethel and had been picked up for not paying a 15 year old fine. We spent a good hour talking politics with him and he was adamant in his belief that our American democracy had been hijacked by the corporate interests. He asked if we could send him one of our impeachment T-shirts.

For those who say that civil disobedience is a waste of time these jail interactions last night made it all worth while.

This morning we leave for Bangor where our friends from the north in Maine will be doing a similar action at the office of Rep. Mike Michaud, Maine's other Democratic party congressman. He too refuses to support impeachment.

The leadership of the national Democratic Party have told their members in Congress to refuse to budge on impeachment.

It is our job to apply the pressure on them. As we read the Constitution yesterday in Tom Allen's office we came to the conclusion that our members of Congress have the obligation to pursue impeachment. And we concluded that the citizens are also obligated to demand impeachment as well.

We either live by the rule of law or we do not. Tom Allen applies the law to eight of us for sitting in his office. But he refuses to apply the law to Bush-Cheney when they shred the Constitution. That kind of double-standard can not pass.

(See the video from our action by clicking on the link in the headline above.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

HAVE TO ACT WHILE I STILL CAN

Democrats are blocking efforts to impeach Bush-Cheney. They want to keep the crooks around through the 2008 election figuring that having them in place will ensure that Hillary Clinton wins the White House and that they can widen their control over the Senate and the House of Representatives. So when the Dems say impeachment is a "distraction" they mean it. Impeachment is a distraction from their cynical plan to ride the public's intense dislike of Bush-Cheney to power.

This is a despicable strategy as it ensures that the worst administration in the nation's history will be be allowed to continue to work their evil ways for some time to come. We all know that the American people are now being prepared for the Iran attack. What are the Dems going to do about that? Nothing. Let Bush-Cheney play it out the Dems say. If more people (American GI's and innocent Iranians or Iraqi's) die then no big deal. Political power for the Dems is job # 1.

I've long ago reached the end of my rope with the Democratic Party. I am now totally committed to supporting any and all opposition to the Dems on every level in 2008. In my free time I will be supporting any Independent or Green candidate willing to stand against the pitiful Dems who claim to be anti-war candidates but keep enabling the Bush pirate team's occupation of Iraq.

I've got to stand up even more and speak out even louder. I've got to be counted in this historic moment as our Constitution is being torn to shreds while the Dems cower in the corner of the Capitol building in Washington. I am very clear that if we are to be "saved" it will not be by a politician. It is now completely up to the people to save us from this slide. We either do it or we don't. I don't ever want it to be said that I was sitting on my ass during the most important moment in our country's history.

So tomorrow I will join a group of people who will deliver letters to our "liberal" Democratic Party Congressman calling on him to support impeachment. Some of us will sit-in Tom Allen's office demanding that he support impeachment. He's already made it clear that he is not going to support impeachment - even though he has told several key impeachment activists in the state that he believes Bush-Cheney "have committed" multiple impeachable offenses.

But Tom Allen has gotten his marching orders from the national party and he is running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Sen. Susan Collins (Republican). Allen's strategy is to move toward the middle. He has a yellow stripe down the center of his back. He will talk a good peace game but fail to deliver.

I am not so desperate that I will just vote for anyone. I've worked as an activist way too long to give my sacred vote to any slimy politician who says one thing and does another.

No one wants to get arrested. No one wants to go to jail. But sometimes you have to stand up and be real. I feel that I have no other choice. I can't wait for everyone else to turn things around. I have to act now, while I still can.

(Click on image for larger version)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

SPECIAL DAY AT THE FAIR

Yesterday we went to the Common Ground Fair up in Unity, Maine. There were so many people there you could barely move. It is put on each year by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

This year we only went for the Saturday, in the past we always camped out at the event and stayed the whole weekend. But we took a neighbor kid with us and thought it best to just do the one day.

Usually we volunteer at the Peace Action Maine pea soup booth and at other organization tables. Yesterday we spent our time at the fair through the eyes of an eight year old, taking turns following her around to the various sights and sounds that grabbed her short attention spam.

The animals (ox, cows, horses, mules, sheep, goats, chickens and rabbits) were one area that we visited several times. We also spent considerable time in the children's area watching our young friend make a hat and then she participated in the kids parade through the fair. Our little neighbor friend dressed as a cat in the parade.

My favorite stop was the sheep dog demonstration pictured above. We got quite a show of how border collies shepherd the sheep around just by glaring at them. It was quite wonderful to see.

In between my shifts doing child care I rested at the tables of Maine Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out talking with fellow activists.

After about seven hours we decided to head home. We stopped in Augusta for dinner at a Chinese restaurant because our friend wanted to eat there. By the time we left and were on the highway heading home we found her fast asleep in the back seat of the car.

It was a wonderful day and our little friend told us that it was "the best day of her life."

Can't beat that. The fair is something special for sure.