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

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

AROUND THE HORN

The image above is a fishing boat in Laos made of Vietnam war-era fuel tanks from U.S. war planes. It's a good example of turning swords into plowshares. Isn't it reassuring to know that we left the people of Southeast Asia some nice gifts in return for enduring our massive bombing of them?

I'm starting work on our next Space Alert! newsletter. Yesterday I sent emails out to various people asking them if they wanted to write articles. Now I have to start working on the bits that I will write and then will have to make the tough choices on selecting the photos from the zillions that I have to choose from. But once it is done and in the mail I am always happy as a lark.

Speaking of birds, my Baltimore Orioles are now 39-36 and just won a big game last night in Chicago. People predicted they would be the worst team in baseball this year but so far they are leading the league in come from behind wins. Last night was another heart stopper, a 7-5 win. I watch the games on the Internet. I only pass this on because I know you all care so much.

Leaving in a few minutes with Mary Beth for points north. We'll stop to visit our friend Maureen for lunch in Lincolnville and then up to Brooksville tonight for dinner at the home of artist Robert Shetterly. Rob has become quite regarded for his inspiring work to do portraits of Americans Who Tell the Truth. Tonight Rob, and another friend Dud Hendrick, are organizing a showing of the video American Blackout and we want to be there. I highly recommend watching it if you have not already done so. Tells the inside story about stolen national elections in 2000 and 2004 and at the same time weaves in the remarkable story about Cynthia McKinney's work to expose the election fraud and her own struggles to remain in Congress as she was over and over again targeted by the power structure for daring to speak out. Heavy stuff.

This weekend MB and I go to a wedding at the Cape in Massachusetts (our housemate Karen's son is getting hitched) and then we take a 24-hour train trip all the way to Florida on June 29 so we can attend the June 30 memorial service in St. Augustine for Peg McIntire who recently died. Practically everyone we know in Florida will be there so it will be quite a party - and in true Peg form she insisted on lots of red wine being served.

Summer in Maine is approaching with alternating warm days, cool nights, and rain which our garden is enjoying. Our peas are doing well, my tomato plants are looking real good, and we have more lettuce than we can eat. Our short growing season is a challenge but people here love their gardens and it is a real tradition that when you visit a friend you must always first inspect their garden and lavish it with much praise!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

WE LOVED GEORGE CARLIN

I was sad to hear that George Carlin died. He was one of the great political comedians who made a career of doing a sociological study of how the American people think and are controlled. He was a master of language.

Take a couple of minutes and watch this classic Carlin bit on The Owners of the Country.

He told the truth and the people loved him. What more could a person do with their life than that?

Rest in peace George. We will miss you.

Monday, June 23, 2008

JUNE 22 PHOTOS AND AN EMAIL FROM THE COLONEL

Menwith Hill U.S. Spy satellite base in England

Folks met in Brunswick, Maine on the town green for an hour of sign holding, writing letters to Condi Rice (who goes to the Czech Republic on July 10 to sign the Star Wars radar agreement), and we closed with a circle and everyone shared why they had come. Most of those in the photo fasted on June 22.
New York City

Blue Hill, Maine

Rome, Italy


Albuquerque, New Mexico out in front of Kirtland A.F.B. for an all-day fasting camp.


St. Paul, Minnesota


In dozens of cities all over the world the June 22 global day of fasting brought people out onto the streets in creative displays of solidarity with the 70% of the people in the Czech Republic who are working hard to reject U.S. plans to deploy a Star Wars radar facility in their country.

Thousands of signatures were gathered for the petition at http://www.nonviolence.cz/
In many places statements were written on paper plates to Secretary of State Rice and will be sent to her before her visit to Prague in early July.

You can find many more photos, and reports, at this web site.

At the end of the day I received an email from Col. Robert Suminsby, Jr. in which he said, "The point I made, and will continue to make, is that the country is on an unsustainable course. The growth of entitlement spending, left unchecked, will eventually crowd out all other parts of the federal budget."

Col. Suminsby worries that people like me are taking a fixed position of ”hands off entitlement spending”........"You see, I’m prepared to make sacrifices to fix national problems. I think others should expect to make sacrifices as well," he said.

I want to assure the Colonel that I too am ready to see "sacrifices" made for the good of the nation. I'd like to see the $14 billion of month we are wasting in Iraq and Afghanistan brought home to build rail systems, solar, and windmills. I'd like to not see us attack Iran. I'd like to see an end to tax cuts for the rich and the corporations. I want an end to the NSA's "warrantless wiretapping" of American citizens and people all over the world. I'd like to see at least a 50% cut in military spending for starters. (Just yesterday an article was sent around about the increases in funding for the Pentagon's high-tech black "secret" budget. I'd like to see the black budget shut down.) I'd like to see the 750 plus U.S. military bases around the world shut down.

Living at a time where we face increasing corporate media consolidation many of us have to rely on email, websites, and blogs to get our messages out to the general public. Newspapers are now in dire financial straits, in part, because people rely on the Internet as their primary source of information.

Col. Suminsby concluded his email to me by saying, "There’s precious little difference between you and any number of right-wing blowhards on talk radio…on either end of the ideological spectrum, if you insist on creating your own version of someone’s position and then attacking it, you’ll succeed only in making yourself feel good, and convincing those who already agreed with you."

I would thank Col. Suminsby for sending me the email. He should know that increasing majorities of the people in the U.S. and around the world are now quite uncomfortable with the escalating U.S. military empire. There is a growing backlash against U.S. militarism both here at home and abroad.

I noticed that the Colonel is soon to be transferred to Germany. I lived there in the mid-1960's when my Air Force father was stationed in Wiesbaden. One day our middle school class was taken to the Rhine River to view the ruins of a castle. The tourist guide informed us that the stone slab we were standing on had once been the barracks of Roman soldiers. I remember wondering to myself, "What were those soldiers doing so far from home?" Even at that young age I intuitively understood that empires are a contradiction and in time can not stand. They are destined to fall.

In our case the U.S. empire is now collapsing. One clear sign is that in the U.S. there is growing competition for the federal tax dollar. Will we fund the Pentagon or social progress? We can't serve two masters.

It appears that the debate will go on.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

THANKS FOR THE CALL COLONEL - WELL MAYBE NOT

At 10:30 a.m. this morning I had a phone call from the base commander at Kirtland A.F.B. in Albuquerque, New Mexico. And it's a Sunday.

In my blog yesterday I quoted Col. Robert Suminsby, Jr. about his belief that we need to get our priorities straight here in the U.S. when it comes to funding things like Social Security and Medicare instead of "aircraft and satellites."

"How could you know what I mean when I talk about our nations priorities?" the Colonel asked me in very unfriendly tones.

I tried explaining to him that I have a lifetime of experience listening to people in the military say that we should ramp up Pentagon spending. He was not in a mood to listen.

Instead the Colonel's voice escalated, similar to his desire to see the military budget take ascendancy over social progress in America. "I can see that you are not one who should be involved in deciding on our nation's priorities," he yelled at me. Then he hung up.

Wow. A call from the base commander one day after my blog quoting him appears. I don't get that kind of service very often.

Some background is in order here to help understand why the Colonel is hot under the collar.

A couple of months ago Colonel Suminsby made a speech to a group of community leaders in Albuquerque calling for a hard look at "entitlement programs" funding. His base paper reported on the event and that was supposed to be that. But Bob Anderson, Vietnam veteran and local organizer with Stop the War Machine, picked up the paper and was quick to notice the significance of the speech. Stop the War Machine went to the Albuquerque City Council and asked them to pass a resolution condemning the Colonel's statement. Then on June 15 the local newspaper ran a story on the Colonel's ideas called Kirtland Commander Fears for Air Force's Future.

I believe that the Colonel's statement is not just - how would the Air Force put it? - out of the blue. It is part of this recent larger public relations campaign the Air Force is calling - Air Force Above All.

You might have seen the TV commercials. High-tech space weapons images....you know USA über alles - that sort of thing. Watch this Air Force video to see for yourself.

The Air Force sees the writing on the wall. We can't have social spending and pay for Star Wars and new generations of massively expensive war planes. So they are programming the minds of the American people.

I guess the best thing about his call is that once again it has been confirmed that Pentagon brass are reading my blog. And they are not happy about it.

The Colonel likely does not know that I too was in the Air Force - from 1971 to 1974. What he does not understand clearly enough is that I no longer have to take orders from officers. You see I am a free man now.

So thanks for the call Colonel but I don't have to jump when you say jump. It's what they call freedom of speech and democracy.

Hope you like this blog entry as well. It's for you.

By the way, Colonel Suminsby is a native of Northeast Harbor, Maine.