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: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. She's running as a Maine Green Independent Party member and needs to gather 2,000 petition signatures of registered Greens during that period. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Friday, December 04, 2009

STILL SMALL TALK FROM CONGRESS

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) on left and CodePink Maine organizer Lisa Savage on the right

Yesterday peace activists in Maine's 1st Congressional District got a nice letter from our representative in Washington. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) sent word about her opposition to Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan.

She said, "I believe that sending more troops into Afghanistan will only mean spending more resources we cannot afford, creating more enemies, and losing more precious American lives in a battle that cannot be won....I am also very concerned with the additional monetary costs of sending more troops. Every day I think about the number of people in Maine who are out of work and the small businesses that are struggling to survive or expand. Maine's share in the wars we have been fighting equals more than $2.5 billion so far and given our pressing needs here at home, I don't think it is the right time to escalate the war in Afghanistan."

OK, that's decent, a good beginning.....but.......

Where the congresswoman broke down though was at the end of the letter. You know, what is she going to do about all this expensive mess? Her conclusion? "As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, who has visited Afghanistan, I will continue to monitor these issues closely as the situation progresses."

That is extremely weak. What we need to hear is something like this: I now pledge that I will vote against any and all funding for the expanded war in Afghanistan and Pakistan and I will work hard within the Progressive Caucus and the entire House to build strong opposition that leads to defeat of Obama's war funding requests. I will also do everything I can to help the citizens of Maine understand the direct connection between endless war funding and the collapse of our economy in the US and in the state of Maine because I recognize that military spending is capital intensive while all other kinds of investment in our economy are labor intensive. I have come to realize that we can't have real economic recovery as long as the Pentagon controls 51% of every federal tax dollar.


When we start to hear that kind of talk from our members of Congress then we will be able to feel confident that real change is happening. Until that time it is just sadly all small talk.

In fact Gallup reports today that 73% of Americans say that they are "very" or "somewhat" fearful the White House's newly announced troop surge would make it difficult for Congress and the president to tackle such issues as healthcare and the economy in the coming months.

One other thing...what did Rep. Pingree mean when she said, "I don't think it is the right time to escalate the war in Afghanistan"? Will there ever be a right time? Does she mean that if our economy gets back on track then it would be OK? That is a very troubling statement.

I must say that I fully remember when she was running for this seat she appeared at a Maine Veterans for Peace candidates forum at the Portland library and said that "we must rebuild the military" which implied a massive expenditure of funds to retool the "broken" military after years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. How would this "rebuilding" be paid for? So far in office Rep. Pingree has voted in favor of all Pentagon annual appropriation funding bills. She did vote against the last Afghanistan war supplemental but then turned around and voted yes on the whole Pentagon package.

The House of Representatives has the power to stop the war funding. We have to demand that they make that job # 1. It's time for them to get real and time is running out.

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