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, February 20, 2010

HEDGES ON CORPORATE STATE

Friday, February 19, 2010

BIDEN AT NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY



Vice-President Biden says that U.S. "missile defense" systems and new global strike systems will allow the U.S. to reduce some of our nuclear weapons.

The Obama administration delivered a budget request for 2011 calling for a full 10 percent increase in nuclear weapons spending, to be followed by further increases in subsequent years.

A 2003 study by Economists for Peace and Security called The Full Cost of Ballistic Missile Defense estimates that the total life cycle cost for a layered missile defense system could reach $1.2 trillion through 2035. The study can be found here

Greg Mello, Director of the Los Alamos Study Group writes about Obama's proposed nuclear weapons spending increase: "This proposed 'surge' responds to a December 2009 request from Senate Republicans (plus Joe Lieberman) for significant increases in nuclear weapons spending. Such increases, these senators said, were necessary (but not necessarily sufficient) to obtain their ratification votes for a follow-on to the START treaty (which expired in December)."

Mello continues, "Will Congress, especially the Democratic members of Congress, fund these increases? In part the answer depends on how seriously they take the several converging crises facing the country and the planet, and how seriously they address populist anger about the economy, especially in relation to their own reelection prospects.

"In many ways the proposed nuclear weapons budget, and the defense budget overall, can be seen as bold raids on a diminishing pool of resources, as well as very real commitments to fading imperial pretensions. Nuclear weapons compete directly with the renewable energy and conservation jobs funded in the Energy and Water funding bills."

It is obvious to me that Obama is trying to buy off Republican support for the very timid nuclear reduction treaty now being negotiated with Russia.

Coupled with increases in the "missile defense" budget it is clear that the signals to Russia and China are that the U.S. is not serious about ending the arms race any time soon.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

CREATING COSTLY ILLUSION IN AFGHANISTAN


Gareth Porter is a historian and investigative journalist on US foreign and military policy analyst. He writes regularly for Inter Press Service on US policy towards Iraq and Iran. Author of four books, the latest of which is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam.

TAKING CAMPAIGN TO STATE CAPITOL

Artists at work drawing inside state capitol
More images of how our war $$ could be spent here in Maine

Small booklets of the art work were delivered to each member of the Maine legislature and to interested people inside the capitol

We were back at it again today as about 25 artists, poets, and supporters showed up inside the State Capitol Hall of Flags in Augusta to deliver small booklets containing many of the war $$ home drawings created last Saturday at the draw-a-thon.

We found two sponsors in the Maine House and Senate that enabled us to put a booklet on the desk of each member of the State Legislature. Then we held a news conference (covered by only two newspapers) and we passed out literature and spoke with many people passing through the Hall of Flags over the three-hour period.

Having the artists right there, drawing during this time, drew many curious people over to see what we were doing.

A letter is now being circulated amongst the members of the State legislature that calls on our two representatives in the U.S. Congress to vote against further war funding. We found a couple legislators today who agreed to sponsor the letter.

So on we go with our campaign here in Maine to Bring Our War $$ Home. The next step is to deepen the amount of local activity that happens around this issue across Maine.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CHEWING ON NUTS

* I'm sort of going nuts this morning trying to find a church in the Lewiston-Auburn part of Maine where the peace walk can have a pot luck and sleep on the floor when it passes through that community on March 25. So far no luck and it's one of the few communities in Maine where the peace movement has very few active folks. Argh!

* I had my annual physical yesterday and all seems well. My doctor, who always talks politics with me for the first half-hour in his office, came in the door yesterday and asked me "OK, what do you think about Obama?" The doctor is very frustrated with Obama on health care "reform". A couple years ago he told me that virtually every patient he has supports single-payer - Medicare for all. He ended the exam by saying he wasn't going to charge me for the full exam - a contribution "for the cause," he said.

* I taped my latest public access cable TV show on Monday. My guest was Amory Weld from the Transition Town movement. They are the folks who are trying to get us to begin planning now for the severe impacts of peak oil, climate change, and economic collapse. I think it was an interesting discussion and should be loaded onto the Internet in about a week. Check the small TV set just below on the left side of the blog for many of my recent shows. The show is now into the seventh year.

* Today I will join an Ash Wednesday vigil for disarmament outside of Bath Iron Works (BIW)here in town. A group of Christian activists will hold the vigils each Saturday all during Lent. These Lent and Advent vigils have been held at the shipyard for more than a decade. BIW builds the Aegis destroyers that are now being outfitted with "missile defense" systems. There will also be peace vigils in front of the offices of our two Maine members of Congress at noon today urging them to stop voting for $$$ for endless war.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

JOBS GONE


Need investment again in America if we are to have jobs. When corporations send jobs overseas we have to look to the federal government for investment. Sadly the Obama government, like Bush, only wants to grow the military budget and make more weapons.

Time to call for conversion of the military industrial complex. We should be making rail systems, solar, wind turbines, weatherizing homes, funding education, rebuilding our collapsing infrastructure (have you seen the New York City subway system lately?), and creating a real health care system.

We will become a third world nation if we don't immediately demand that we stop fighting endless war and invest that $12 billion a month now wasted in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan back here at home.

Stop trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. We need to argue for fundamental change in America.

We need your help to make it happen.

Monday, February 15, 2010

BUILDING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY







Plant more community gardens




"We believe that the primary functions of government are to enhance community, protect the environment, care for the unfortunate, provide education, and always tell the people the truth. Otherwise, we will have no democracy. One truth we've learned is that we can't have guns and butter. When the government feeds the Pentagon our money, feeds the people fear, the people are starved. Maine taxpayers have paid 2.5 billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and lost security abroad, security at home, and faith in their governments. Maine artists offer these drawings as suggestions for wiser and healthier uses of our tax dollars. Lets work together to bring our war dollars home and build the beloved community that we all desire."

Robert Shetterly

Sunday, February 14, 2010

MORE DRAW-A-THON PHOTOS

The kitchen help
Program MC's Hana Maris (left) and poet Henry Braun (right)
Rob Shetterly (Americans Who Tell the Truth) interviewed for cable TV
Hana and her son Tucker doing war $$$ song they wrote


Free-range chicken in every pot



Health care


Our Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME)


Maine roads need fixing

PEACE GRANNIES DECLARE WAR ON G.I. JOE


By Joan Wile

The Granny Peace Brigade, shocked and outraged at the transformation over the years of the relatively benign toy soldier, G. I. Joe, into a vicious killing machine, will launch an attack on Hasbro, the manufacturer, in the belief that such an emblem of militaristic overkill distorts the sensibilities of kids into violence and war lust.

"Let's face it -- the increasingly violent nature of toys and games these days is militarizing our children to a dangerous degree, Our occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, plus our drones in Pakistan, exemplify the escalation of the U.S. into a nation more interested in making war than peace," said 94-year-old Lillian Pollak, one of the active Brigaders." "G.I. Joe and other such ferocious toys help foster these harmfully aggressive tendencies."

The grandmothers' first strike will occur on Saturday evening, Feb. 13, when the grannies ambush with fliers, signs and an enormous banner the people streaming into the 10th annual "Toy of the Year Awards" ceremony at the Chelsea Piers, at which Hasbro has been nominated in two categories. While peppering the gala attendees with their paper weapons, they will sing revised lyrics to old songs around their anti-war-toys theme, assisted by the Raging Grannies. For Instance, to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat":

(partial lyric) HASBRO, CANCEL G.I. JOE
AND SWITCH TO OTHER TOYS
DOLLS THAT TEACH TO KILL AND MAIM
ARE BAD FOR GIRLS AND BOYS

The Brigade will repeat the action at the Javits Center (New York City) on Monday, Feb. 15, 11:30 a.m., targeting all attendees to the Toy Fair held there.

ARTISTS, POETS, FOOD, JOY, AND INSPIRATION

Students from Unity College created this piece
Former Navy Lt. Becky Farley reads her poem about driving the Aegis cruiser that fired the first cruise missile at Baghdad during "shock and awe"

About 100 folks turned out for the pot luck and poetry reading to end the day

One artist creates "what they really think & what they really say" piece about one Maine Congressman's position on war spending

Lisa Savage (CodePink) helps load the art into computer for eventual production of booklets to hand to state legislators in Augusta on February 18


It was about a 13-hour day of hard work, inspiration, and joy for me and the many others who gathered in Bath yesterday for the draw-a-thon to create images and words about bringing our war $$ home.

Things began just after 9:00 am as about 40 artists and poets from all over Maine (and even an artist from Canada) came for the event. Natasha Mayers and Kenny Cole (two artists who do alot of political art) organized via their Union of Maine Visual Artists to get the creative folks there. Included in the group were five students from Unity College.

My job was to organize the kitchen, make sure the artists had coffee, tea, snacks and then lunch. I also was responsible for getting folks from throughout the community and state to come to the evening potluck supper to honor and celebrate the work done throughout the day by the artists and poets.

The art was hung on the wall for all to see as they arrived for the supper and following the bountiful meal we heard music, poetry, and words about the three-month long Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home.

One new poet that I was particularly proud of was Becky Farley. She was a Navy Lieutenant at the time of the March, 2003 launch of Bush's "shock and awe" of Baghdad. Becky was assigned to an Aegis Cruiser that fired the first cruise missile in the attack and at that moment she was the officer on the deck who was actually driving the ship. In her poem she talked about the "dark, dark night" and the dark forces of power and greed behind the attack. Since getting out of the Navy she has struggled with depression but has joined the Iraq Veterans Against the War and wrote her poem just for the event last night.

It was an inspiring day and evening and a wonderful testimony as to what happens when activists all across the state come together for a short-term campaign to focus energy and attention on a particular subject. In the case of war $$ we are already seeing much organizing activity spring up around the state. Resolutions will be taken to town hall meetings and city councils. People are speaking up at school board meetings about making the links to cuts in education and funding for war. Lots of letters to the editor are being written to newspapers across Maine.

Vigils at the offices
of our two Maine Congressional representatives will be held February 17 in conjunction with similar actions across the country. On February 18 the artists will head to the state capitol in Augusta for a draw-in where they plan to give their images to state legislators and encourage them to call for an end to war funding as one important way to deal with Maine's current fiscal crisis.

One man brought his wheelchair bound wife to the event last night who suffers from multiple sclerosis and now faces cutbacks in her home treatment program. When I got home last night I had an email from her husband saying he wants to help us during our statewide action weekend (April 10-11) when we will drop pizza-style doorhanger literature across the state urging people to let the politicians know we want our war $$ brought home to Maine. This morning he wrote me again saying he wanted to order 150 of the doorhangers to pass out in his neighborhood.

This is how we build real movements. We link the war spending issue to the real life concerns people have and we help find ways for a broader segment of the population to express their outrage over war and social dissolution. This is the job of all good hearted folks (what a Seminole Indian spiritual leader in Florida used to call the "special people").

Our task is now to keep reaching out beyond our normal boxes in which we typically do our political work. As we each stretch ourselves we expand our base and build a real fire under this call to Bring Our War $$ Home.