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, October 10, 2008

DIVIDE AND CONQUER


It all makes perfect sense. The economy is collapsing and the American people are angry and frustrated. So rather than have them condemn the system that is ultimately responsible the power structure has created the lion's den where Democrat and Republican rip each others throat out and move toward civil war. That should keep the people busy while the corporate elite steal the nation blind.

Sarah Palin's job in all of this is to throw the red meat into the crowd. And she is good at it and seems to have no conscience about doing so. She feels the power and loves it. The boys in charge have chosen well.

According to the Washington Post report from a McCain-Palin rally in Wisconsin, "There were shouts of 'Nobama' and 'Socialist' at the mention of the Democratic presidential nominee. There were boos, middle fingers turned up and thumbs turned down as a media caravan moved through the crowd Thursday for a midday town hall gathering featuring John McCain and Sarah Palin."

Obama, a socialist? Not even close.

At one recent rally someone yelled "kill him" as Palin was pumping up the crowd. At a McCain event a supporter of his yelled "terrorist" when the Republican candidate asked "Who is Barack Obama?"

McCain voted for the bailout and is now using the issue to drive a wedge between the people. Instead of acknowledging both corporate parties complicity with Wall Street, the McCain-Palin team are playing innocent victim.

Again the Post reports, "The crowd showed equal disdain for the media, fueled by comments from Palin, who encouraged the Republican supporters to take the campaign's message around the media. 'I can't pick a fight with those who buy ink by the barrel,' she said. 'It's dangerous territory whenever I suggest the mainstream media isn't asking all the questions.' "

Translation - the media is picking on me. Defend me against the socialists and the liberal media. The crowd loves it because she plays on their own sense of powerlessness. They feel a sense of duty and unity for their cause.

Yes Sarah Palin, the millionaire, who pretends to be just like Joe Six-Pack, is being picked on. Grab your gun and defend her.......

The fascists now running this country know they must get out in front of the public outrage and turn it away from them toward their own enemies who could potentially expose their corruption. Thus the left who are challenging corporate power and the "liberal media" become the target. This is what this election is really about.

I've always maintained that a country like the U.S., who has aided in the killing of people all over the world in order to build it's military and economic empire, would some day have to turn their sights on us here at home. We are no longer needed to build cars and make clothes. That can be done more cheaply overseas. Unemployment is growing in the U.S. and there is nothing more dangerous than an educated unemployed worker. They become revolutionaries.

So the strategy must be to lower education standards and use emotion to turn the people against each other. McCain's slogan "Country First" should actually read "Divide and Conquer".

If you have doubts just see what our government has done to the Indians when their land was taken from them. Or see how the black liberation movement has been treated over the years. Or how the labor movement was beaten and killed during our history as they tried to organize workers.

We are all being brought onto the reservation now. American is being pitted against American.

We should each be careful how we get used in creating this new deadly internal conflict.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

WHAT'S THE ANSWER TO OUR PROBLEMS?

Business Week reports that, "California is going to Washington, D.C., to ask for $7 billion to cover its budget shortfall. Otherwise it won't be able to pay for its teachers, cops, firemen, and other essential services. Unfortunately, California won't be alone. A number of other states are experiencing a huge dive in tax revenue and could be going cap in hand to Uncle Sam alarmingly soon. How bad could it get? The potential cost for all the 31 states facing both major and minor shortfalls could be as much as $53.4 billion."

And what will Uncle Sam say to these states? Does the uncle in DC have any $$$ to bail these states out?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

AS ROME BURNS

ABC News has reported that following the historic Wall Street bailout, welfare queens from AIG insurance company headed for this luxury report and spa called St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California. Rooms at the joint roll in at $1,000 per night. Poor bastards, I'm sorry that they have to slum it after so much worry and fright. I can imagine the champagne corks were popping all night long.

The "retreat" reportedly cost AIG, or should I say you the taxpayer, about $440,000. But don't worry the Democrats in Congress are on the case and are going to make sure that the staff at the resort gets fairly tipped. After all the Dems are looking out for the "working class".

Speaking of things that drive you crazy......

Last night I went to a "candidates debate" in my town for those running for the state legislature. The debate was hosted by a local environmental group to discuss what can be done to deal with the reality of rising oil prices and the need to develop an alternative energy policy at the state level. It was pitiful.

There were six of the politicos there (from both corporate parties) and they all agreed that yes we must do something this winter and beyond because home heating oil prices have doubled since last winter.

Some of their ideas included:

* Neighbor must look out for neighbor
* More tax incentives for investment in wind and solar (the investor class gets subsidized for saving energy while the poor and working class get nothing)
* More government bonding (which means the towns or state borrow money from the big banks paying big interest) for investment in sustainable technology development
* Public transportation would be nice, especially for senior citizens
* Maine has lots of wood
* Home weatherization would be nice and we need programs to train energy auditors because we don't have enough of them in the state. (Maine's old wooden homes are filled with holes.)
* Big business will see the potential for profit in sustainable energy production and will ride in and rescue us

Needless to say I wanted to cry.

The audience (with 1 or 2 exemptions) asked very mild questions and the questions from the moderator were very mild and furnished to the candidates in advance.

Near the end of the evening I raised my hand and suggested that with Maine's present fiscal crisis the state (and federal government for that matter) had little money to offer in solving these problems. But, I contended, the Pentagon controls 54% of every federal tax dollar and if we converted the global war machine we'd have lots of money for dealing with these problems........

Then I quickly ran through, the moderator was rushing me along because she wanted to get home to watch the Obama-McCain debate, the numbers from the University of Mass-Amherst Economics Dept. study that reported when we spend $1 billion on military production we get 8,555 jobs in the "defense" industry but that same amount of money put into home weatherization would yield 12,804 jobs or put into building mass transit systems would yield 19,795 jobs. We need jobs in Maine, right?

"OK, what is your question," the moderator impatiently asked.

My question I said is when are local politicians going to start calling for the conversion of the military industrial complex?

Oh, boy....someone farted in church again.

Blank stares except from one Republican who grabbed the microphone and went into a trip about how 9-11 showed we need to protect the country and since then we have not been attacked.....

Then more blank stares.

Previously every politician (or wanna-be politician) had something to say about every question. Not this time.

OK, we are outta her said the moderator but to her credit Karen Wainberg, one of the organizers of the event, stood up and said I want someone to answer this question.

So Tom Watson, a Democrat legislator from Bath, said yeah I am against the war but when we passed a resolution in Augusta a couple of years ago it created a controversy and it stopped all business for two weeks (it did not) and then everyone ignored it so there is nothing we can do from the state level.

One other guy basically said, "If you want change make sure you vote in the upcoming election." Another Democrat said its a federal problem and we are in the state legislature. Not our job.

I stumbled out of Bath City Hall into the chilly night warmed by my rising blood pressure. I was thinking about peak oil, thinking about Maine facing gasoline prices of $5, $6, $7, $8 a gallon with no public transit to speak of........

I was thinking about the Democratic-Republican party agreement to create a "lock box" around the military budget as America's human and physical infrastructure collapses. I was thinking that these politicians are weak and afraid of their own shadow - they are living in a dream world. The crash is coming hard and they are fiddling around.

I later heard that Tom Watson told Karen after the event was over that when he goes door-to-door looking for votes virtually everyone is asking him about the Iraq occupation. But he remains quiet because it is a federal problem.

The "ignorant" voters know what the hell is going on but the corporate dominated politicians keep their mouths shut for fear of losing their seats in "power". They play the go-along to get-along game.

And in the meantime Rome burns.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

IN THE NAME OF GOD

(Click on photo for better view)

One of the more moving entry's in the protest parade that concluded the European Social Forum in Malmo, Sweden on September 20 was the sculpture on wheels called "In the name of God- In memory of the victims of fundamentalism" by artist Jens Galschiot.

Each of the copper crucifix were mounted on a wagon and they were connected as a train and pulled along during the 3 1/2 hour march through the city.

Literature handed out by the artist said, "The crucifix is a sculptural outcry for the right to contraception and unprejudiced sexual education. It is an artistic comment to the Bible fundamentalists' crusade against contraception, and their grotesque claim that 'the Bible allows only unprotected sex'."

The first sculpture was put up in cooperation with the Cathedral of Copenhagen on December 1, 2006. the International AIDS day. They have since been shown around the world.

"The Roman Catholic Church, the Christian fundamentalists in the US, and the US government in office form a powerful alliance where they advocate sexual abstinence until marriage as the only way to avoid HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancy. They assert that information on contraception encourages voluptuousness."

"They are trying to force a change in contraception policy in Africa, Asia and Central America. This has already had fatal consequences in form of more HIV infected people. unwanted pregnancies and dangerous abortions."

"The sexual life is a natural part of our existence, regardless of our way of life and whether we want children or not. The sexual policy crusade is a frontal assault on the rights of both women and sexual minorities, in the West as well as in the developing countries."

Monday, October 06, 2008

DINNER TALK AT THE AMH

The leaves are turning here in Maine and the temperature is dropping to the chilly side. This weekend our Addams-Melman House (AMH) mates worked in the garden to harvest the last of the tomatoes, squash, and green beans. We still have some other things in the ground and our newest housemate Maureen worked with Karen to rig up a hoop house over one raised garden bed so that we can grow veggies into the winter. Living in this intentional community, there are five of us here now, has many wonderful benefits.

Last night, after we all returned home from a panel discussion on the elections that was held in nearby Brunswick, I fried green tomatoes for supper while Mary Beth made a salad and Karen and Maureen went to the store to pick up a few things. Housemate Levi was camping in the mountains with friends.

We talked politics over dinner. Just what is going to happen with the economy now? How will we all survive if the economy collapses? When will the people rise up against this corporate takeover in America? What will the government do when the public has had enough? Will the government declare martial law and outlaw protest? What would we all do then? What will happen to the growing legions of poor people? How will voting and the coming election impact all of the previous questions?

A typical dinner discussion at the AMH.

In the meantime we want to expand our gardens for next spring and plant more fruit trees in our yard. We are thinking that we have to develop the ability to grow more of our food.

I need to go outside and chop more wood today. Our woodpile is growing as we bought a second wood burning stove because the price of heating oil doubled since last winter. Many Maine homes will be much colder this winter.

Life is changing. Americans have had it easy for a long time as we consume 25% of global resources even though we are only 5% of the world population.

If we could only stop using 54% of every tax dollar for military production and endless war and use those resources to build wind, solar, and rail our life could be much different.