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, November 22, 2008

I AM ONE OF 48 MILLION WITHOUT HEALTH CARE!


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Friday, November 21, 2008

BECOMING A BEE

Last night our local PeaceWorks group hosted an event at Bowdoin College in Brunswick that featured two activists associated with the Beehive Design Collective. The group of young folks, who are based in Machias, Maine, describe themselves this way: "The work of the Beehive Collective has three major facets: the Hive is appreciated internationally for its educational graphics campaigns, at a regional level for it’s stone mosaic murals and apprentice program, and locally for it’s dedication to the revitalization of the old Machias Valley Grange Hall, a landmark building in our small, rural town. The Hive has been going and growing since 2000, at full speed!"

In the talk last night the bees detailed how their creative and intricate artwork is designed to show the reality of corporate attacks on the natural word. Their art work does not feature humans, instead bees, flies, ants, and other animals are the victims and heroes that are in danger from "civilization and progress" and are fighting to dismantle the industrial system that is destroying all life on the planet.

The corporate monoculture, whether in farming, forestry, education, media, legal system, or politics, is laying waste to the future by colonizing our minds, the Earth's resources, and our cultures.

The enormous graphics that the Beehive Collective create, always with a theme and part of a larger education and action campaign, weave together the evils of militarism, resource extraction, agri-business destruction of the land, privatization of water, and more. And in the middle of it all you find the smallest of insects working away trying to bring back hope and the natural order.

They also spoke last night about a new corporate plan called Atlantica which is a NAFTA-style trade zone. Atlantica would include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Eastern Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.

According to the newly formed Maine Atlantic Watch, "The proposal for Atlantica focuses on 'deep integration' of the economies of New England and the Canadian Maritimes that would occur by building massive trade infrastructure throughout the Atlantica region. Deep integration of Atlantica would also involve 'harmonizing regulations,' creating regional trade agreements and laws that would override existing local rules, threatening home rule and democratic principles of local self governance. Atlantica infrastructure projects include the proposed private East-West Toll Highway through Maine, Super-Ports that could accommodate 'Post Panamax' cargo ships able to carry enough cargo to fill over 20 miles of tractor trailer trucks end to end, biorefineries that could process cellulose ethanol from genetically modified trees, pipelines to carry oil and natural gas, new nuclear power plants and the mines for the uranium power them. The framework also promotes liquefied natural gas terminals, new waste dumps and incinerators, and new oil refineries."

The corporate world is mortgaging (define as death grip) our future. In other words the plans are BIG biz-ness without borders.

It was a quite inspiring presentation and the work that goes into the Beehive's graphics is just stunning. Everyone should take a good tour of their website.

In the end the evening was a great reminder to me about why we do our political work. We don't just organize to make life better for the humans. We are now losing hundreds of plant and animal species each year due to the way we live. We all need to become one of the bees.

Resistance to monoculture and industrialism! That is the change we need to be fighting for.

KEEP LIGHTING THE SPARK

Veterans for Peace member Mike Ferner reports that, "Two enormous banners hung on a 90-foot scaffold [at the National Archives in Washington DC] by six members of Veterans For Peace, one member of Military Families Speak Out, and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War a little after 8 am, Saturday, November 15."

"The eight had slipped unnoticed around a construction barrier and climbed up the scaffolding, completely unnoticed. It was fairly easy that day to grab the element of surprise since finance ministers and heads of state from around the world were in Washington to propose they could do something about the global financial meltdown. Dozens of official motorcades, each guarded by scores of police, barreled up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, whisking officials to morning meetings that seemed to alternate between one end of that avenue and the other."

"We never know. We just never know when something like this will turn into a spark and really catch. We just keep doing what we can, and lo and behold, one time something aligns in the stars or catches in peoples' minds, and what was just another valiant little effort turns into something no one saw coming, something we never expected."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN


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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

LITTLE KNOWN FACTS

* Did you know that a South Texas (Willacy County) grand jury has indicted V-P Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County's federal detention centers. The indictment criticizes Cheney's investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees by working through the prison companies. Gonzales is accused of using his position while in office to stop an investigation into abuses at the federal detention centers.

* Speaking of attorney generals, President-elect Obama has appointed Eric Holder as his Attorney General. Holder served as the number two top official in the Clinton Justice Department. Holder will have to give up his lucrative corporate law practice at Covington & Burling where he is currently a defense lawyer for Chiquita Brands international in a case in which Colombian plaintiffs seek damages for the murders carried out by the AUC paramilitaries - a designated terrorist organization. Human and labor rights lawyer Dan Kovalik reports that, "Chiquita has already admitted in a criminal case that it paid the AUC around $1.7 million in a 7-year period and that it further provided the AUC with a cache of machine guns as well. Indeed, Holder himself, using his influence as former deputy attorney general under the Clinton Administration, helped to negotiate Chiquita's sweetheart deal with the Justice Department in the criminal case against Chiquita. Under this deal, no Chiquita official received any jail time. Indeed, the identity of the key officials involved in the assistance to the paramilitaries were kept under seal and confidential. In the end, Chiquita was fined a mere $25 million which it has been allowed to pay over a 5-year period."

* On November 17 the No Bases organization in the Czech Republic held another protest in Prague opposing the deployment of a U.S. Star Wars radar facility that would be used to help the Pentagon develop a first-strike capability against Russia. More than 600 people joined the protest. Green Party Member of Parliament (MP) Kateřina Jacques showed up with an American flag to express her support for the U.S. radar deployment. And you thought the Greens were supposed to be the good guys!


IN THE TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO BELIEVE, IT HAS TO BE A JOKE, CATEGORY


* During the recent pirate high jacking off the coast of Somalia a familiar face was caught on film. Wearing a black eye patch was a white man who upon closer scrutiny appeared to be George W. Bush. The White House had no comment on the incident.

* The Democratic party has just announced that Sen. Joe Lieberman will be the official party nominee for president in 2012. A party spokesman yesterday said, "When we embrace someone like Joe who has gone astray like he did during the recent campaign we do all we can to make him feel welcome again under our big tent."

* The Congress has at last agreed to give the U.S. auto industry more than $25 billion in federal funds after General Motors decided to give each member of Congress a gas guzzling SUV. One Congressional representative told the media, "This way if Congress takes the inventory of big SUV's off GM's hands then they can get right to work making cars that get at least 23 miles per gallon. That way we can tell the American people that we have a new product that they can be proud of. I know people are already tired of taking the bus to work, that is if they can even find one in their community."

* The war in Afghanistan is picking up. Said one Obama transition spokesman, "Now we can finally have a good war that we can all feel good about and one that we can win. I know the Soviet Union got bogged down there years ago but we have a secret winning plan. We will kill the Taliban because we know them very well. Just remember that Obama foreign policy adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski helped arm them during the Jimmy Carter presidency so we know where they hang out. We'll get them now."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

OBAMA FIELD WORKERS RAISE THEIR HANDS

Many of the grassroots Obama team are deeply worried about the possible appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. The "field hands" as they call themselves are reported on by Al Giordano and this morning he has collected many words on his blog from other leading critics of Clinton.

Giordano has been helping to organize the "field hands" to stay active across the country to help Obama push his agenda. In his blog this morning Giordano writes, "Mr. President-elect: You said, on November 7, that in making cabinet appointments you "would not be so rushed that you end up making mistakes.' "

He concluded with, "No Drama, Mr. President-elect, at this hour of the first crisis of your presidency-elect. Ethics matter, even when they do not play to the crowd, especially at those moments when few have the fortitude to consider them important and fight for them."

Not bad I'd say. Good to see this rising up of the Obama team. Clinton is part of the past, part of the problem. She offers no real change.

I have written before of seeing her on the Sunday morning news talk program Faze the Nation while touring Iraq a couple of years ago. She sat before the cameras with Republican conservative Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) saying, "The American people need to relax. We are going to be in Iraq for a long time. We've been in Korea for 50 years." Sen. Graham then said, "You know I don't often agree with Sen. Clinton on much. But on this we agree, we are going to be in Iraq for a long time."

Clinton, like many Democrats in office, supported the Iraq war before she opposed it. Last night while watching the news on TV I saw a message scroll across the bottom of the screen saying, "Henry Kissinger thinks Hillary Clinton would make a great Secretary of State." What more proof would one need to know that she works for the oligarchy?

It should also be remembered that Sen. Graham was a key John McCain supporter who spent much time accompanying the Republican presidential candidate on the campaign trail. Remember the knock on McCain? He said we might be in Iraq for 100 years. 100? 50? What's the difference?

But the bad news is that all the names now being thrown out for Secretary of State are part of the Washington foreign policy consensus team. John Kerry, Bill Richardson, and Hillary Clinton have all earned their stripes over the years supporting U.S. military empire. Picking any of them will signal to me that we can expect more of the same.

I remember being in an American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) office in western Massachusetts just prior to the 2003 shock and awe invasion of Iraq. They were faxing stacks of letters from local citizens to Sen. Kerry requesting a meeting to discuss their opposition to the Iraq attack. Kerry ignored them and the war began. There was never a meeting with peace movement folks and he did nothing to stop it.

But the real good sign is that the Obama team are raising their hands in class. Let's hope that continues.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

WIND BLOWING OUTSIDE

The wind has been blowing hard here all day today. It finally stopped raining outside this afternoon after several days of steady and sometimes hard down pours. The temperatures outside are turning cold after a couple of unusually warm fall days. I can't help but worry about the fact that climate change is already impacting our beautiful spinning orb. Global warming will create havoc all over the planet and my biggest concern is that the "competition model" of global governance will pit person against person and country against country. We've got the turn the world military into a "natural guard" and use them for helping people as the seas rise and droughts impact our ability to grow food. We can't keep killing each other.

I went north to Belfast, Maine today for a meeting with two dozen folks to discuss the possible candidacy of Lynne Williams for governor. Lynne is the chair of the Maine Green Independent Party and lives in Bar Harbor. She is a progressive attorney who spends her time representing groups all over the state that are in good fights against corporate power. In the meeting I said that more attention must be placed on expanding the base of the Green Party in Maine before we plunge into another campaign. Lynne has a good vision of using her campaign to build the Greens in the state. The party though needs to become more issue based now if it hopes to attract more people come election time - people need a reason for vote for a candidate or a party. I will do what I can to help.

One of my sisters (I have five of them) called tonight from Florida and said she sent a letter to Obama after reading an earlier blog entry asking folks to do so. Thanks Leslie. I hope others are doing the same.

I watched Obama on the TV news show 60 Minutes tonight. I must say he comes across quite well and is a likeable guy for sure. He was tight-lipped about his plans except he did say he would close the Guantanamo prison camp in Cuba and would stop torture. That is all good. (Although there is talk he might open a similar facility in the U.S.) He and his wife Michelle have a nice connection and I loved the way they talked about their kids. Very loving.

Our friend Sung-Hee Choi in South Korea was very happy about the piece I wrote the other day called "Not Waiting for Godot". She sent it around to key Korean peace groups and it was put up on some web sites in her country. People there very much appreciate knowing that we care about their peace movement and that we show support. That is what solidarity is all about.

I have been writing about some of our Global Network friends around the world from time to time. I want to start doing more of that. Many people work for years and never get any recognition.

I am an avid reader and like to lay in bed at night and read til around midnight when I start to fall asleep. My stack of books is running out. I just finished a Swedish mystery story given to me when I was recently on my Nordic tour. I am boycotting my local library after a big controversy about the children's librarian being unfairly fired after 25 years of good service. The assistant children's librarian is a good friend and a member of our local Peaceworks group. She quit in solidarity after the firing. I can't find it in my heart to go back to the library as a result. I can be very stubborn.

Well enough ramblings for tonight. Time to hit the hay and read a bit.