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, September 19, 2009

STOP BEGGING OBAMA AND GET MAD

By Chris Hedges

The right-wing accusations against Barack Obama are true. He is a socialist, although he practices socialism for corporations. He is squandering the country’s future with deficits that can never be repaid. He has retained and even bolstered our surveillance state to spy on Americans. He is forcing us to buy into a health care system that will enrich corporations and expand the abuse of our for-profit medical care. He will not stanch unemployment. He will not end our wars. He will not rebuild the nation. He is a tool of the corporate state.

The right wing is not wrong. It is not the problem. We are the problem. If we do not tap into the justifiable anger sweeping across the nation, if we do not militantly push back against corporate fraud and imperial wars that we cannot win or afford, the political vacuum we have created will be filled with right-wing lunatics and proto-fascists. The goons will inherit power not because they are astute, but because we are weak and inept.

Violence is a dark undercurrent of American history. It is exacerbated by war and economic decline. Violence is spreading outward from the killing fields in Iraq and Afghanistan to slowly tear apart individuals, families and communities. There is no immunity. The longer the wars continue, the longer the members of our working class are transformed by corporate overlords into serfs, the more violence will dominate the landscape. The slide into chaos and a police state will become inevitable.

The soldiers and Marines who return from Iraq and Afghanistan are often traumatized and then shipped back a few months later to be traumatized again. This was less frequent in Vietnam. Veterans, when they get out, search for the usual escape routes of alienation, addictions and medication. But there is also the escape route of violence. We risk creating a homegrown Freikorps, the demobilized German soldiers from World War I who violently tore down the edifice of the Weimar Republic and helped open the way to Nazism.

It is we who are guilty, guilty for sending these young men and women to wars that did not have to be fought. It is we who are guilty for turning away from the truth of war to wallow in a self-aggrandizing myth, guilty because we create and decorate killers and when they come home maimed and broken we discard them. It is we who are guilty for failing to defy a Democratic Party that since 1994 has betrayed the working class by destroying our manufacturing base, slashing funds to assist the poor and cravenly doing the bidding of corporations. It is we who are guilty for refusing to mass on Washington and demand single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans. It is we who are guilty for supporting Democrats while they funnel billions in taxpayer dollars to sustain speculative Wall Street interests. The rage of the confused and angry right-wing marchers, the ones fired up by trash-talking talk show hosts, the ones liberals belittle and maybe even laugh at, should be our rage. And if it is not our rage soon, if we continue to humiliate and debase ourselves by begging Obama to be Obama, we will see our open society dismantled not because of the shrewdness of the far right, but because of our moral cowardice.

See the full article by Chris Hedges here

DAVIES ON DECLINE OF CREATIVITY



Ray Davies (The Kinks) talks about the damage from the popular TV show X Factor. Davies has long been a critic of corporate domination of the music industry.


The X Factor is a television music talent show franchise originating in the United Kingdom, where it was devised as a replacement for Pop Idol. The competitions, now held in various countries, are contested by aspiring pop singers, and talent filled aspiring performers drawn from public auditions. The "X Factor" of the title refers to the undefinable "something" that makes for star quality. The prize is usually a recording contract (in addition to the publicity that appearance in the later stages of the show itself generates, not only for the winner but also for other highly ranked contestants). The format creator is Simon Cowell who also judges and mentors on the UK series.

Friday, September 18, 2009

MISSILE DEFENSE: THE OTHER STORY

Yesterday we witnessed a flurry of emails and articles proclaiming victory after President Obama's announcement that he was going to scrap George W. Bush's plans to deploy missile defense interceptors in Poland and a Star Wars radar in the Czech Republic. There is no doubt that our peace activist friends in those two countries do indeed have reason to celebrate after their hard and determined work to stop those deployments. We also need to recognize and thank the many people around the world who acted in solidarity with them during these past couple years of intensive campaigning.

But now that we've had a day to rejoice, the time has come for more reflection on what the Obama administration intends to do next. I've quickly learned during these eight months of watching Obama in action that when he gives something with one hand it is wise to watch what his other hand is taking away.

In his September 17 speech Obama stated that his new missile defense architecture for Europe would be more "comprehensive than the previous [Bush] program" and would be "enhanced" by NATO involvement.

Secretary of War Robert Gates was left to explain the details of the new missile defense "architecture" that would replace the now rejected deployment plan for Poland and the Czech Republic.

Gates stated that he was the one who had proposed three years ago to deploy the missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. He concluded that the original plan was no longer the best military "architecture" for the current "threat" from Iran. Thus instead of missile defense interceptors that would target offending missiles in their mid-course of flight, and that had a series of bad test results, the Pentagon now wanted to deploy in northern and southern Europe missile defense systems that had a proven testing record and were more appropriate for the kind of threat now expected from Iran.

The intelligence community now assesses that the threat from Iran's short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, such as the Shahab-3, is developing more rapidly than previously projected," Gates said. "This poses an increased and more immediate threat to our forces on the European continent, as well as to our allies."

Gates continued, "We now have proven capabilities to intercept these [short range] ballistic missiles with land and sea-based interceptors supported by much improved sensors. This allows us to deploy a distributed sensor network rather than a single-fixed site, like the kind slated for the Czech Republic."

US Navy Aegis destroyers, outfitted with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) missile defense interceptors, would "provide flexibility to move interceptors from one region to another," Gates said. In years to come the SM-3 will be upgraded and be deployed throughout Europe as land-based systems as well. Since 2007 the SM-3 has had eight successful tests, including the February of 2008 shoot-down of a falling military satellite with an SM-3 missile from an Aegis ship in what many saw as proof that these systems also had "anti-satellite" weapons capability.

You can watch brief video clips of Gates here and Obama here from yesterday, or look below at one of my earlier posts for the videos.

The Russians first reaction was positive, as would be expected, since they were deeply concerned that the Poland and Czech deployments could be used by the US as the shield in a first-strike attack. But their concerns have not completely disappeared.

The Washington Post reported today that Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, former chief of the Russian military's main research institute for nuclear strategy, cautioned that the reconfigured U.S. system could still pose a threat to Russia. "Everything depends on the scale of such a system," he told the Interfax news agency. "If it comprises a multitude of facilities, including a space echelon, it may threaten the Russian potential of nuclear deterrence."

As described by Gates and his top generals, Obama's new missile defense plan will unfold in three stages. By 2011, the Pentagon will deploy Navy Aegis ships equipped with SM-3 interceptors in the eastern Mediterranean.

A second phase in about 2015 will field an upgraded, land-based SM-3 in allied countries, and discussions are underway with Poland and the Czech Republic on basing the missiles in their territory, Gates said. In 2018, the third phase will deploy a larger and more capable missile, which will allow the system to protect Europe and the United States against short- and intermediate-range rockets and, eventually, intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Bloomberg News reports that, “This shift clearly benefits Lockheed Martin and Raytheon and is negative” for Boeing. “The move away from fixed missile-defense sites in Eastern Europe is a continuation of the more flexible, tactical missile-defense shield that Secretary Gates advocated," said Rob Stallard, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Inc. in New York.

The Pentagon’s 2010 budget seeks 250 Standard Missile-3 interceptors. It also seeks to increase to 27 from 21 the number of warships equipped to launch the Standard Missile-3s and requests $1.6 billion to develop software and hardware to upgrade ships and to develop a ground-based model.

The Pentagon is also now promising Poland that Patriot missiles will still be deployed in that country as previously planned.

So in the end I see this as an adjustment in strategy due to technology as much as anything. The flexible, more mobile, short range missile defense systems are proving ready to go while the former Bush proposal for Poland and Czech Republic included technologies that are not yet proven.

Obama can appear to be stepping back from an immediate confrontation with Russia but in fact he is following the lead of the Pentagon who for some time has been saying that they must move to expand the more promising Navy Aegis-based missile defense system. This program has already been dramatically growing in the Asian-Pacific region and will now be slated for expanded European operations.

YOUR FELLOW AMERICANS



Meet your fellow Americans who tea-bagged their way to Washington DC on September 12 to rally against fascism, socialism, welfare, czars, Obama, liberals, wine and cheese, abortion, and health care for all.

It just goes to prove that when you limit public education spending across the nation there is a direct consequence.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

MORE DETAILS ON MISSILE DEFENSE IN EUROPE



Secretary of War Gates on the new strategy for missile defense in Europe.



President Obama on the new strategy which will include more missile defense deployments on Navy Aegis destroyers in the European region and ultimately more mobile missile defense launch systems and radars in the region.

So bottom line, an adjustment in technologies but still a major commitment to expand US deployments of missile defense in Europe and throughout the world.

HISTORY, MILITARY SCIENCE, AND VICTORIES OF SORTS

Click on photo of mural for a larger view

* We had a great time in Quebec. The old city is just the most beautiful place and the food was a special treat. I wanted to eat every 2-3 hours. One of the great scenes is the mural that tells the history of the city. One of the more interesting stories was that by the mid-1600s there were only 3,000 people in Quebec, mostly men. The British military were banging on the city walls. The king of France emptied out the Paris orphanages that were run by Catholic nuns and sent about 800 young women to Quebec to become brides for the men. They were well educated by the nuns so they ensured that the French language and culture would be entrenched in the new world. The men in Quebec were lined up and required by law to pick a wife. A priest and a couple nuns were on hand and the women were "allowed" to reject a husband if they suspected he might be a drinker ..... but they likely had little power in that moment. Today the woman are called the mothers of the nation.

* It now appears that we have won a victory as the Obama administration is reportedly going to scrap Bush plans to deploy missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. This is a big win for the activists in both those countries and for those of us around the world who have been working for years to limit the spread of these provocative systems. But the downside is that the US is likely to now deploy the systems instead in Israel and Turkey and at the present time the Pentagon is expanding missile defense deployments in Japan, South Korea and Australia. So we win one but we still have to press on to ensure that we shut down all of these space technology systems that are a part of the US first-strike planning program.

* NASA launched a rocket on Tuesday that was to be used to create artificial clouds from polluting rocket exhaust at the outermost layers of Earth's atmosphere. The mission was clearly a military space technology test as it is a project of the Naval Research Laboratory and the Department of Defense Space Test Program. This test shows again how military science today is a closed system because it does not concern itself with how their projects impact humans or the web of life on our Mother Earth. We know that for years the Pentagon and NASA have been testing technologies to change weather, interrupt global communications, and more. Since the use of poison gas and the explosion of the atomic bomb military scientists have attempted to recreate the power of God to allow themselves greater ability to control the world and our environment. The public allows them to get away with these programs because they are the "rocket scientists" and we are just the "little people". The time has come though for us to say enough is enough and demand that our tax dollars stop being used for these purposes. There needs to be more debate about science ethics and more scientists need to help the public understand, and be able to speak about, these programs that we are all paying for. It is not about being a Luddite but just trying to get a handle on the out-of-control nature of military science today. We can't have a democratic society when the people don't have a clue what is really going on inside the bowels of the military industrial complex.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CAPITALISM - LOVES OUR MONEY



Michael Moore interviewed by Jay Leno about his new movie, set to come out next week.

Sorry about the commercial that comes on first, don't seem able to get rid of it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS



Paul Jay from The Real News Network once again proves that he is a top notch interviewer....asking the tough questions of those who have a hard time being critical of the Obama administration.

QUEBEC CITY

My sister Joan is arriving for a visit tonight and in the morning Mary Beth and I will join her for a six-hour car ride north to Quebec City in Canada. We've never been there and are excited about the trip which will give us a chance to explore a bit of our French-Canadian roots.

Our father was full blooded French-Canadian and his family origins were in the Normandy region of France. Three Gagnon cousins made the trek to French Canada during the 1600's and were some of the early settlers in the "new world".

We will return on Thursday and I am not going to carry along my laptop. So I will get a much needed break from all things work related. See you then.