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, December 05, 2009

ENDLESS WAR OR REAL JOBS AT HOME?

Mary Beth and I joined 15 others in front of Bath Iron Works today where the Aegis destroyer is built. During the four weeks of Advent vigils are being held each Saturday, organized by the Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm near Hope, Maine.

I was holding a sign that read "Our Tax $$ for Peaceful Production" and MB's said "Conversion Creates More Jobs".

We were there for an hour and at noon the Saturday shift hears the big horn blow and cars pour out of the facility for about 15 minutes. We got a surprisingly good number of thumbs up and honks from the workers. Many of them understand that a collapsing economy like ours won't be able to afford to build $3 billion war ships much longer. Hundreds of these workers have signed the petition making its way around inside the shipyard saying they want to build wind turbines. If we only had the political leadership in Maine to seriously push for conversion of the shipyard, before it is too late, many workers and people in the community would be cheering the process on.

Last night as I was preparing to go out the door to the weekly peace vigil in nearby Brunswick the phone rang. A man identified himself as Erik Hansen who is on the staff of our local Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. He said he had just read my blog that had mentioned her letter about opposing the surge in Afghanistan and wondered if I had seen her on CBS TV News the night before when they played a soundbite from her House floor speech. I had not seen it so he said he'd send it to me. He said they just wanted me to understand that she was opposed to the surge and was against funding it and I said that her letter had not quite made it clear that she would vote No on the war funding supplemental but that I was glad to hear from him.

In that same CBS News clip the reporter ends the segment by saying that while some in the House oppose the war funding there won't be enough of them to block it....meaning that the Democrats will team up with the Republicans to make sure it passes.

Our Congresswoman will thus likely safely vote against the war funding but won't stick her neck out far enough to make the Democratic party leadership angry at her. After all, she once told us that she was not going to become a, god-forbid, Dennis Kucinich type of politician.

But this is just what in fact we in Maine want and believe that we need at this moment in history. We need a real leader to represent the people of our state. We need someone to go to Washington who will fight hard to end these wars so those hundreds of billions of tax dollars can be used back here at home for creating real jobs that will help do good things like build rail systems and wind turbines and the like....help solve for climate change if you will.

I am sure that Rep. Pingree and her staff will be annoyed with our persistent demands for her to be more of a leader on these issues. They should not take it personally....we are just doing our job as citizens by demanding that they represent us, not the big military corporations, when it comes to determining what kind of industrial policy this country should have.

Right now the #1 industrial product of America is weapons for endless war. Many politicians appear to be happy with that state of affairs and play the go-along-to-get along game. That is not acceptable to many of us and we will continue calling on our elected officials to carry water for the people not the corporate interests.

Friday, December 04, 2009

ANOTHER SHARP CRITIQUE OF OBAMA SURGE



Pepe Escobar, born in Brazil is the roving correspondent for Asia Times and an analyst for The Real News Network. He's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, based in London, Milan, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, and Bangkok. Since the late 1990s, he has specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central Asia, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has made frequent visits to Iran and is the author of Globalistan and also Red Zone Blues: A Snapshot of Baghdad During the Surge both published by Nimble Books in 2007.

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.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

THE WEB OF RIGHT-WING DECEIT

Click on graphic for larger image

The following is a sociogram summarizing the links between the five DC beltway organizations behind that pro-war conference call (in pink), partisan affiliations of those organizations with Democratic administrations and conservative Democrats in Congress, and membership overlaps between those organizations and other organizations that are part of the pro-war military and foreign policy establishment.

- By Irregular Times

CRITIQUE OF OBAMA'S SPEECH



Reese Erlich is a freelance journalist and author from the United States. His books include the 2003 best-seller, Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You, 2007's The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of US Policy and the Middle-East Crisis, and his newest release Dateline Havana: The Real Story of US Policy and the Future of Cuba. He has produced many radio documentaries, including a series hosted by Walter Cronkite.

OBAMA USING 9-11 JUST LIKE BUSH

It's been very rewarding for me to see my two youngest sisters (I have five sisters) getting into these issues on Facebook. One of them wrote yesterday that she wants to go door-to-door in her community in Colorado and drop literature opposing the Obama war in Afghanistan. I told her once we get our literature done I will get it to her.

My other sister has been doing lots of research and posting various sites on her Facebook page. This morning she had the clip from the Obama team daily news briefing where press secretary Robert Gibbs is asked by renowned journalist Helen Thomas if Obama's Afghan-Pakistan war plan has anything to do with oil pipeline routes. He plays dumb and says he has never heard of that before and then goes on to repeat the standard George W. Bush line that this is all about, "19 men hijacked four planes and murdered nearly 3,000 people on Sept 11, 2001." Helen then said that is what the last administration kept saying, are you going to do the same? His response, "That's why we are in Afghanistan right now."

Same, same........

You can see the Gibbs news confab here

The question by Helen Thomas starts at 14 minutes.

No doubt at all that this administration is fully working for the oil corporations and the military industrial complex. All that talk about Obama being different is blather.

Our only alternative is to pressure the House of Representatives to cut funding. Several sources yesterday reported that registered Democrats all over the country are already saying they are not going to vote for Democrats in the next election. The Dems in the House will either stop this war or they will suffer big time at the polls.

The next step is to create options for people when they go into the voting booth. We need to organize more 3rd party candidates to run against these Democrats who excuse endless war. Now is the time to get started.

Info Alert: In most post yesterday I tell the story about the right-wing "Dems" who had the phony conference call. Look at the comments below that story and see that poster Jim did some more research on these groups....excellent work....see it here

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

DON'T YOU LOVE THIS GUY - TELL THE TRUTH BROTHER

DECEPTIVE PROGRESSIVES CALL FOR SUPPORT OF OBAMA'S WAR

This morning I got an email from a friend who tipped me off to a conference call for "progressives" to discuss Obama's Afghanistan speech last night.

The call announcement included this: "The narrative so far is that the left is against sending more troops and the right is for it,” said Jim Arkedis, Director of the National Security Project at the Progressive Policy Institute. “But that’s not the reality of the situation. There are reasons for progressives to take heart from much of the President’s new strategy, as well as reasons to tread carefully. We want to make sure all those voices are heard.”

This made me quite interested so I dialed in. The call began with everyone in the audience on mute as the following people made opening statements.

* Rachel Kleinfeld, CEO, Truman National Security Project
* Jim Arkedis, Director of the National Security Project, Progressive Policy
Institute
* Gen. Paul Eaton (Ret.), Senior Adviser, National Security Network
* Andy Johnson, Director, Third Way National Security Program
* Lorelei Kelly, Director, New Strategic Security Initiative
* Brian Katulis, Center for American Progress
* Frankie Sturm, Communications Director, Truman National Security Project (Moderator)

Frankly I had never heard of any of these people before and I've been working in the "progressive movement" for the past 30 years. A couple of the organizations they work for I had heard a bit about - they are DC-based "think tanks" that usually are heavily funded by corporations to project their message.

Here is a bit of what some of them said in the opening:

Rachel Kleinfeld: "Thrilled by last night's speech....it's a realistic goal we have been given...dismayed that progressives don't see that this will reduce the violence of this war."

Jim Arkedis: Described himself as a former counter-terrorism analyst at the Pentagon....."Think of the US like an NFL defense....by adopting this counter-insurgency strategy it essentially takes the other sides offense off the field.....this is about peace and stability." He slammed Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) who was on the news this morning criticizing the plan as being from the "far left."

Lorelei Kelly: "Progressives need to abandon the old talking points from Iraq and Vietnam....progressives need to get inside this debate, President Obama is trying to create a new way....these policies need support....The American military is probably the most progressive agency we have today."

One of them brought up CodePink's recent visit to Afghanistan and subsequent statements made by Media Benjamin to say that some peace groups understand that we need to stay there and stabilize the country. Another called Obama's plan the "full spectrum approach" that progressives must support - we "need the military" to get to a positive conclusion.

Finally they unmuted the listeners and then opened it up for "questions". I didn't ask a question but instead read a quote from the Robert Scheer article (just below this post) which came from former Marine captain Matthew Hoh where he said, “In the course of my five months of service in Afghanistan … I have lost understanding and confidence in the strategic purpose of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan. … I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul.”

A woman listener from West Virginia (CodePink) said she had family killed in these wars and they need to stop. A woman from Georgia said we need to end the wars. A man from upstate New York said they were organizing protests and that Obama had betrayed us.

Next they put us on mute again and told us that we could only ask questions and that we'd better be good. When they unmuted I accused them of trying to silence the voices of the people as it was clear that they only wanted us on the call to listen to the talking points put out by the White House.

I know this is true because last spring I did a couple blogs about the Obama administration daily sending out talking points to groups like these that today hosted this "conference call". You can see one such story about this by Jermey Scahill here

One of the groups mentioned by Scahill in his article is the Center for American Progress which was represented on the call today as one of the "expert" speakers.

While on the call I quickly did an Internet search on the Truman National Security Project just to see what I could learn about them. Their advisory board stands out like a sore thumb:

Advisory Board
Madeleine K. Albright
Principal, The Albright Group LLC

Leslie H. Gelb
President Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations

William Marshall
President, Progressive Policy Institute

William J. Perry (former Clinton Secretary of Defense)
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institute

John D. Podesta (former Clinton operative)
President and CEO, Center for American Progress

Wendy R. Sherman
Principal, The Albright Group LLC

First chance I got I read the list off and commented that it was now abundantly clear to me that this call was intended to deliver Obama team talking points to us and that they were not in the least interested in what we had to say.....these folks organizing this call came from the right-wing of the Democratic Party I said...... earlier I had strongly challenged one of them who stated that the peace movement should stop protesting and support Obama's plan!

They couldn't wait to finish the call and I am happy to say that it did not go as well as they had hoped. I thank Mark Roman for tipping me off and I want to warn everyone to be on the lookout for these "pseudo progressives" who will now be coming out of the woodwork to tell the public and the media that only the far-left is against Obama's war in Afghanistan. Good "progressives" they will say are going to support Obama's war surge.

In the old days they used to call these folks "Scoop Jackson Democrats" after the senator from Washington state who was a pro-war leader. They have wised up and now call themselves progressives and will steal the rug out from under our feet if we are not watching closely.

HERE WE GO AGAIN

By Robert Scheer

It is already a 30-year war begun by one Democratic president, and thanks to the political opportunism of the current commander in chief the Afghanistan war is still without end or logical purpose. President Barack Obama’s own top national security adviser has stated that there are fewer than 100 al-Qaida members in Afghanistan and that they are not capable of launching attacks. What superheroes they must be, then, to require 100,000 U.S. troops to contain them.

The president handled that absurdity by conflating al-Qaida, which he admitted is holed up in Pakistan, with the Taliban and denying the McChrystal report’s basic assumption that the enemy in Afghanistan is local in both origin and focus. Obama stated Tuesday in a speech announcing a major escalation of the war, “It’s important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place.” But he then cut off any serious consideration of that question with the bald assertion that “we did not ask for this fight.”

Of course we did. The Islamic fanatics who seized power in Afghanistan were previously backed by the U.S. as “freedom fighters” in what was once marketed as a bold adventure in Cold War one-upmanship against the Soviets. It was President Jimmy Carter, aided by a young liberal hawk named Richard Holbrooke, now Obama’s civilian point man on Afghanistan, who decided to support Muslim fanatics there. Holbrooke began his government service as one of the “Best and the Brightest” in Vietnam and was involved with the rural pacification and Phoenix assassination program in that country, and he is now a big advocate of the counterinsurgency program proposed by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal to once again win the hearts and minds of locals who want none of it.

The current president’s military point man, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, served in Carter’s National Security Council and knows that Obama is speaking falsely when he asserts it was the Soviet occupation that gave rise to the Muslim insurgency that we abetted. Gates wrote a memoir in 1996 which, as his publisher proclaimed, exposed “Carter’s never-before-revealed covert support to Afghan mujahedeen—six months before the Soviets invaded.”

Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was asked in a 1998 interview with the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur if he regretted “having given arms and advice to future terrorists,” and he answered, “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?” Brzezinski made that statement three years before the 9/11 attack by those “stirred-up Muslims.”

So here we go again, selling firewater to the natives and calling it salvation. We have decided to prop up a hopelessly corrupt Afghan government because, as Obama argued in one of the more disgraceful passages of Tuesday’s West Point speech, “although it was marred by fraud, [the recent] election produced a government that is consistent with Afghanistan’s laws and constitution.”

To suggest that the Afghan government will be in seriously better shape 18 months after 30,000 additional U.S. and perhaps 5,000 more NATO troops are dispatched is bizarrely out of touch with the strategy of the McChrystal report, which calls for American troops to restructure life down to the level of the most forlorn village. Surely the civilian and military supporters of that approach who are cheering Obama on have been giving assurances that he will not be held to such an unrealistically short timeline. Evidence of this was offered in the president’s speech when he said of the planned withdrawal of some forces by July of 2011: “Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We’ll continue to advise and assist Afghanistan’s security forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul.”

A very long haul indeed, if one checks the experience of Matthew Hoh, the former Marine captain who was credited with being as successful as anyone in implementing the counterinsurgency strategy now in vogue. In his letter of resignation as a foreign service officer in charge of one of the most hotly contested areas, Hoh wrote: “In the course of my five months of service in Afghanistan … I have lost understanding and confidence in the strategic purpose of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan. … I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul.”

Maybe they should have given Capt. Hoh the Noble Peace Prize.

- Robert Scheer has built a reputation for strong social and political writing over his 30 years as a journalist. Between 1964 and 1969 he was Vietnam correspondent, managing editor and editor in chief of Ramparts magazine. From 1976 to 1993 he served as a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, writing on diverse topics such as the Soviet Union, arms control, national politics and the military. In 1993 he launched a nationally syndicated column based at the Los Angeles Times, where he was named a contributing editor. That column ran weekly for the next 12 years and is now based at Truthdig.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

REACTIONS TO MORE WAR IN A MILITARY TOWN

Colorado Springs, Colorado is a military town where the Army's Fort Carson is located and several bases that host the Air Force Space Command and other space warfare related facilities. Colorado Springs also has some of the largest Christian fundamentalist mega-churches in the country.

The worst part of Obama's speech for me tonight was near the end when he tried to do the "big Patriotic finish" and bring in all the old tired, worn out, themes like we are not out to occupy countries around the world (forget that we have 1,000 military bases).....I mean, how fucking stupid does this man think we are? This kind of stuff just drives me over the edge.

I don't trust his 2011 deadline any farther than I can spit....they wouldn't be building the huge permanent military bases in Afghanistan if we were going to leave any time soon. Obama will do the same thing they are doing in Iraq, surge a huge number of troops, expand the private mercenary forces, and then bring some troops home in 2011 and say it is all over....after all who pays attention to the details, right? If the media stops covering a war that means its over......

This dude is a con man extraordinaire. Do you think for a minute that Gates, sitting in the front row of Obama's speech, would even be there if he had the slightest doubt that this war was not going to last at least another 10 years? The Bush administration still lives.

Anyone that fell for this line tonight needs to have their head examined.

COMFORTABLY NUMB?

Afghan women under starry skies (By Natasha Mayers)


My heart is hurting this morning as I intensely feel the reverb from all the back-and-forth about tonight's announcement from Obama to escalate the war in "Af-Pak". They talk about troop levels, surging, counterinsurgency, supply lines, UAV's, hellfire missiles, national security interests, and more. I think about the babies, the old people, the innocent people at weddings and funerals that keep getting killed by our "brave hero soldiers." The billions of dollars wasted for corporate domination.

I also think about the working class American kids who join the military because of the economic draft - they have few other options besides flipping burgers. 75,000 of them have come back from Iraq injured....75,000 of them.....I want to scream.

We have become heartless in our endless war making. We do it without a blink and then some people, who say they oppose wars (at least when Republicans are in office anyway), say things like, "We'll it's all very complicated now and Obama just can't pull up and leave. He'd be accused of being weak." That kind of talk makes me want to be sick.

I cast about like a fisherman looking for disappearing stocks of fish and wonder what we can do to reach the public. Maybe we can open their hearts, at least get them to worry as much about war spending as they do about "big gobment spending on socialism" and the like.... That takes alot of work and I wonder who might be willing to make the effort.....

I wonder if the American people have it in them to feel it all anymore or have they become "comfortably numb"?

Monday, November 30, 2009

YOU ARE FUNDING THE 21ST CENTURY CRUSADES

MINUTES OF MAINE AFGHANISTAN ORGANIZING PLAN MEETING

November 28, 2009

Present:
Sally Breen, Michael Cutting, Bruce Gagnon, Gary Higginbottom, Selma Sternlieb

Time Frame:
We recommend a three-month statewide campaign on the Afghanistan war funding issue from January 18 (MLK's birthday) to April 15 (tax day). Key events happening during that period: The New Spring Peace Walk thru Maine (March 24-April 1); the February caucuses; and the spring roll-out of another Afghan war supplemental (likely before next May) due to Obama's surge.

Goals:
1. To convince Representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud that it's safe to vote no on the war supplemental and urge them to take stronger leadership roles in the House, Michaud with the Blue Dogs and Pingree with the Progressive Caucus, in persuading other representatives to vote no on war funding.

2. To expand our activist base in Maine, moving together as a statewide movement.

3. To participate in and offer the national peace movement a model for statewide organizing that targets House members on Afghan war funding.

4. To bring the general public deeply into the war funding debate and make connections to Maine's fiscal crisis.

Establishment of Implementation Committee:
We suggest the immediate formation of an Implementation Committee to refine and put this plan into effect. Committe would consist of 12-15 people from around the state. Bruce will send out another call for Implementation Committee members. Anyone willing to work on the Implementation Committee should contact Bruce ASAP. The five people (listed above) on the visioning committee are willing to be on the Implementation Committee. The first meeting of the Implementation Committee will take place on Saturday, December 19 at 12:30 p.m. at the Addams-Melman House in Bath (212 Centre St) following the 11:30-12:30 BIW Advent vigil. Bruce will provide veggie soup. Participants are asked to bring sandwiches. Subsequent meetings will be held in other parts of the state and/or through conference calls. (The committee will suspend after the 3-month period is over.)

Responsibilities of the Implementation Committee:
1) develop the literature for the campaign including door hangers, a tri-fold leaflet, postcards.

2) organize a news conference to launch the campaign. Hold it in the Hall of Flags in Augusta. Mike Brennan has volunteered to help identify other Maine leaders to also speak at the news conference which would make connections between state fiscal crisis and war funding.

3) coordinate the final campaign action weekend events, recommended for April 10-11, when we would go door-to-door in towns all across the state. This would be right before Tax Day when folks are thinking about how their $$$ is spent.

4) handle fundraising and budget: calculate the cost of the campaign and draft a fundraising letter. People are more invested in a campaign if they've put money into it. (Only think one such appeal will be necessary. A 501 (c) 3 fiscal sponsor will be needed to accept and disburse all funds.)

5) act as a clearinghouse for reports from groups around the state on their activities during the 3-month campaign

6) make a list of suggested local activities including radio ads; letters to the editor; cell phone calls to Pingree/Michaud; public affairs programming (radio/TV); public comments to town councils; disseminating leaflets at post offices and libraries; comments at school board budget meetings; speak at union meetings, in churches, schools, clubs and organizations; providing people with the tools to write a letter to their representative and promising to return the next day to pick it up.

7) oversee creation of a basic website containing the downloadable literature, contact information, and planned schedule of events.

8) decide on identifying clothing or color for door-to-door campaigners: scarf, hat, sweatshirt, etc.?

Co-Sponsoring Organizations:
Groups must be willing to make serious organizing efforts. The groups should see this work as a way to expand peace activities in their community. No financial donation required by co-sponsors but would be gladly accepted.

Suggestions for Recruiting People to Work on the Campaign:
Invite people in your community to a meeting. Review the statewide plan. Have a map of your town and divide it up among the people. Ask them to canvass the people on those streets during final campaign action weekend (the culmination of the 3-month effort). Involve them in other local events during the 3-month effort. Invite one of the Implementation Committee members to your community early-on to speak about the campaign in order to pump up the jam.

Door Hangers:
We recommend door hanger literature for final campaign action weekend on April 10-11. They are easy to drop, look good, are different from the usual leaflets, and get people's attention. Gary will find out the cost of 10,000, 20,000 and 30,000 hangers. Global Network willing to pay for design if necessary.

Title of Campaign:
The Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home is the title we suggest. Bring Our War $$ Home could be the slogan on the literature. Trying to make direct connection between war and the sinking economy.

Subcommittee to Draft Wording of Leaflet & Hanger:
Gary will work on the wording of the door-hanger. Bruce and Selma will work on the wording of the leaflet. Michael and Sally will send ideas.

What the War Costs Communities:
Gary will look into the current cost of war for each of the communities that participate in the campaign. We can then be ready to go to a school board meeting, for instance, and show how dropping a particular school program is directly related to how much the community is sending to the military.

Next Steps:
We urge all local peace activists and peace groups in Maine to share and discuss these proposals submitted by the Visioning Committee. Send feedback to Implementation Committee via Bruce Gagnon at globalnet@mindspring.com or 443-9502. We also urge locals to select a person to serve on the Implementation Committee for this 3-month campaign - first meeting to be in Bath on Dec 19 at 12:30 following BIW vigil. Please also discuss locally if your group will become a co-sponsor for this campaign.

Thanks for your support.

Minutes by Selma Sternlieb

Sunday, November 29, 2009

CRUNCH TIME FOR PEACE MOVEMENT

Protests have begun across the country to take a stand against Obama's coming announcement to surge in Afghanistan.

Here in the midcoast of Maine ten of us signed a letter to the editor of our local paper outlining our opposition and informing the community about our planned protest in Brunswick next Wednesday right after Obama's announcement.

This announcement will be "do" or "die" time for the peace movement in America. If we simply take it without significant push-back then Obama and the rest of the war hawks will feel empowered to continue their expansion of the Afghanistan-Pakistan war. Instead, if they see significant and growing opposition that could translate into the House of Representatives finding the courage to cut funding for these wars then a whole new dynamic comes into play.

As soon as Obama makes his announcement, and we now generally have a good idea what he is going to say, then the ball moves to the court of the House. It is there that we must focus our energy and our protest in the coming months.

Yesterday we had a planning meeting of a committee here in Maine to develop a 3-month Afghanistan war campaign that would begin soon after the new year begins. Our committee came up with a good proposal and tomorrow we will be sending it out widely in Maine for local activists and peace groups to review and discuss. Our hope is that we will have strong support from folks statewide to target our two members of the House to get them to vote against the $50 billion Afghanistan war supplemental that is expected to come to the Congress in the early spring. We also want to push our two Congresspersons to become stronger leaders in the House as one belongs to the conservative Blue Dogs and the other to the Progressive Caucus. Both of them did vote against the last Afghanistan war supplemental bill - but they do it quietly, almost sheepishly.

All of us in the US must do more in the next few days to make a statement against this war. We need to call Congress, write a letter to a local paper, hold a sign in a street protest opposing Obama's surge, and help build a wider and deeper movement to end this war. And I believe that we must connect the war to the growing fiscal crisis in America.

The public understands that we have a fiscal crisis here at home. They know school funding is being cut, they know real health care reform is not going to happen, and they daily see the crumbling infrastructure all around us as roads, bridges, public buildings, and social services are left to fall apart.

It's all hands on deck time for us. The question for each of us to answer is, am I going to come alive at this crucial point in history, or am I going to be a spectator?

INFO UPDATE: The $120 billion Afghan-Iraq war supplemental (and now part of the 2010 Defense Bill) was already approved but has yet to be finalized by conference committee and not yet signed by Obama. It must be done by Dec 18 or money starts to run out....so this must go back to House and Senate for second approval before going to Obama.....

Then following this new Obama surge in Afghanistan another war supplemental will be needed and would likely be brought to the House some time in the spring, probably before May.

BUSH-BLAIR DEAL ON WAR



The British have been holding a national inquiry into the Iraq war. This news spot reveals the dirty scheming Bush and Blair took to sell the war to the world. They should both get life in prison with no chance for parole.

Why a national inquiry in the United Kingdom but nothing in the US?

(The video takes a bit to load after you click to start it.)