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, July 17, 2010

OIL FLOW STOPS FOR NOW - WORKERS IN GULF STILL SCREWED

Angry woman in Louisiana appeals to Obama to defend working people in the Gulf of Mexico region who are getting slammed.

Friday, July 16, 2010

BIG BOMBERS - BIG $$$

Wired reports:

Every time the Air Force sends a B-1B bomber on a mission over Afghanistan, it spends costs $720,000 in fuel, repair, and other costs. And when the plane comes back, it has to spend 48 hours being repaired for every hour it was in the air. All of which is double-crazy, because the bomber doesn’t really drop bombs over Afghanistan any more, thanks to the military’s airstrike restrictions. The B-1B just lingers over the country with a camera: a big Predator drone, at many, many times the price.

THE TOXIC KILLER


The U.S. fears legal and financial repercussions of acknowledging Agent orange and Depleted Uranium contamination. In the meantime victims, generations later, continue to suffer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

SWEET DREAMS AT MARTHA'S

Methodist summer camp cottages on the Vineyard
The ferry boat

I was back on the ferry this morning from Martha's Vineyard to Woods Hole, Ma. Then I grabbed the bus to Boston. In Boston I switched to a bus to Maine where I am writing this. (It's great that buses now have WiFi.)

Things went well last night at the library in Vineyard Haven where I gave my talk. The local peace group turned out their active membership and we had a great discussion about the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign and Obama's ability to demobilize the left. No one argued the point with me about Obama being the corporate place-holder that he is.

I stayed in a small cottage on the property of Sarah and Bruce Nevin last night and it was virtually surrounded with wild flowers, gardens, chickens, and goats. All of this seemed to contribute to a wonderful vibe so my dreams were quite creative and wonderful. I had sort of a "post-Florida-peace-camp" sequence of dreams where kind and enthusiastic people were all working together with young folks.

I had two swims yesterday after arriving on Martha's Vineyard. Sarah drove me around a bit and showed me the sights which included the Methodist summer camp, a real attraction. My first swim was along the beach near Oak Bluffs.

My second swim was at the summer beach home of Carole Abrahams who has been a Global Network supporter for many years. Carole lives in New York City and was at our annual membership meeting there in May. She is a summer member of the Peace Council that hosted my event last night. She and her extended family have spent summers in Vineyard Haven her whole life. Carole cooked a smashing lasagna for dinner before my talk.

I had a peek at the front page of the Boston Globe this morning and saw an article about Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) releasing documents from Vietnam-era Congressional secret hearings that are starkly similar to things being said these days about Afghanistan.

Here is a bit from the story:

The CIA director predicted it would be a “long war.’’ A senator from Missouri, expressing concern about the unconventional nature of the fighting, wanted to know, “Who is the enemy?’’ A senator from Tennessee, meanwhile, warned that if the American people were being misled that “the consequences are very great.’’

The words were uttered in secret more than 40 years ago during private meetings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the Vietnam War. But they were made public for the first time yesterday by Senator John F. Kerry, now the panel’s chairman, out of a belief that the lively debates offer lessons for how to grapple today with the war in Afghanistan and other hot spots.


It would be nice though if Kerry would lead the fight to stop funding the war in Afghanistan. So far he has proven to be quite weak when it comes to really ending the mess.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ON THE ROAD TO VINEYARD

* I am on the bus from Portland heading south on my way to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts for a talk tonight at the library in that community. The title of my talk is the one in the photo above. I change buses in Boston and take another one to Woods Hole, Ma. where I then take a ferry boat to the Vineyard. Hope to get a swim in the ocean while there and return home on Thursday afternoon.

* We had a conference call last night of our Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home and about a dozen people were on the call. Included in the group were four people representing national groups as interest around the country continues to grow in our efforts here in Maine. We reviewed the entire campaign and did a bit of brainstorming about future steps. We are now in the process of setting up meetings with our Congressional delegation. A series of events in the coming months will be held across the state that will incorporate our message. I'll write more about some of them soon. This coming Saturday we will be having a group of us with our banner in the Hallowell parade, gathering at 9:30 am.

* It's raining outside and my mood is reflective after seeing the video below about Israel ripping up the Palestinian apricot trees. This kind of thing has been going on for years. It's a form of genocide, the slow variety, but it still has the same results. Destroy a people's ability to sustain themselves, force them into refugee camps, limit their intake of essential food groups and medical care and you reduce the life span of the people. The Jews know how this works quite well because this is what Hitler did to them inside the Warsaw ghetto in Poland. Hitler's team created the "Caloric Reduction Intake Schedule" where they systematically created a plan to reduce food intake over a period of time knowing that it would cause the Jews to die. Genocide of another variety. It was evil then and it is evil now.

THE ORIGINS OF CONFLICT



If you ever wondered where the Palestinian rage comes from just watch this video. Palestinian fruit trees destroyed so Israeli settlements can pipe sewerage through their farm lands.

The arrogance is breathtaking. And the U.S. taxpayers essentially fund these Israeli operations.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

OBAMA AND THE DEMS IN BIG TROUBLE

A U.S. war plane prepares to bomb Afghanistan

New polling data is revealing that Obama is wearing thin on the voters and it is having a sharp impact on how voters view their member of Congress as we approach the November elections.

A Washington Post poll shows that 54% of Americans disapprove of how Obama is handling the economy.

In responding to this question (Right now, are you inclined to vote to re-elect your representative in Congress in the next election or are you inclined to look around for someone else to vote for?) only 26% of registered voters say they would vote for their current member of Congress. This is a tidal wave of dissatisfaction that could wash the Democrats out of control.

The poll did not have any direct questions about Afghanistan which is puzzling since our current wars are such a primary factor in our economic collapse. But a June 17 Angus Reid Public Opinion survey found that only 50% of the American public now support the war in Afghanistan.


Support for the Afghanistan war is declining even faster in key NATO countries which will mean only more trouble for Obama. In Canada 59% of voters disagree with their current participation in the war. In Britain 55% oppose their participation. About 300 British soldiers have died so far in Afghanistan.

61 per cent of respondents think Australia should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, up 11 points since March 2009.

With support for Obama's "good war" fast declining in the U.S. and around the world, and the global economy worsening, the Democrats are going to have to begin to take on their president if they wish to win back voter support.

We all know there will be no economic recovery as long as we are pissing away nearly $12 billion a month in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan on wars that are unwinnable. The voters obviously are increasingly making the connections between economic collapse here at home and our wasteful and immoral wars.

Just as Lyndon Johnson was driven from the White House in the 1968 election over the Vietnam War, Obama could face a similar fate before the 2012 national election unless he turns this sinking ship around quickly. I frankly don't see him having the guts to do it.

Just yesterday Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) was quoted by Raw Story saying, “I think that this war, if it goes on and if it escalates, has the potential to destroy this presidency and to destroy the Democratic majorities in Congress."

It is obvious that the Obama magic is wearing thin. I spoke with well-known peace activist Kathy Kelly on the phone yesterday and asked her if she was hearing people defend the president anymore at her speaking engagements. She replied that virtually no one is doing that anymore.

If the Democrats are smart they will jettison their Republican-lite president and his corporate war policies. If they hang onto his sinking ship they very likely will be going down with him as he falls to the bottom of the oily sea.



Speaking of Polls: The latest from Time Magazine


Social Security - 86% opposed to cuts
Medicare - 82% opposed to cuts
Wars - 41% opposed to cuts, 55% approve of cuts
Education - 63% opposed to cuts
Health care - 68% opposed to cuts
Medicaid - 77% opposed to cuts
Non-war Defense - 50% opposed to cuts, 46% approve of cuts

Put that in your pipe and smoke it awhile........who says the American people are conservatives?

Monday, July 12, 2010

SEAWEED

USS Ohio on maneuvers in Asian-Pacific
Banner in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island
* The South Korean Navy is getting ready to make their final move on Gangjeong village now that the recent elections are over. Bulldozers are poised and the villagers swear they will put their bodies (and lives) on the line to protect the rocks, the fish, the coral, the water, and their farming land. Will keep you posted as things heat up. Lately the villagers have been connecting more with other islands where U.S. military bases are expanding such as Guam, Okinawa, and Hawaii. See more here

* I was outside today cutting up seaweed that we are using as fertilizer and mulch on our garden. It's quite amazing how many varieties of it there are. The smell made me think of the Gangjeong villagers fight against the Navy base.

* Things are also picking up here in Maine as our Veterans for Peace (VFP) crew has just over a month before the national convention takes place in Portland. I am working on my couple of things that I am responsible for. A fundraiser at Flatbread pizza in Portland to benefit the convention will be held on Tuesday, August 3 from 5-9pm. VFP will get a $$ cut on each pie sold that night. If you are around come and be part of the event.

* I sent around an article yesterday by Rick Rozoff who works on the NATO expansion issue. He reported about massive U.S. Navy maneuvers all around China, particularly U.S. submarines outfitted with hundreds of first-strike Tomahawk cruise missiles on-board. China can't be very happy about this. Imagine the howls in the U.S. if China was parking submarines and other naval ships near our coasts! One woman on my list wrote and told me to take her off the list because the article was "too long and over the top". Likely another Obama supporter who can't stand to hear anything that is discordant with her view that he is the peace prize president. I've had several such responses lately to our latest newsletter and some of my emails.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

GATHERING THE SCATTERED BROTHERS

We went to Waterville, Maine yesterday to the opening of an art show at Colby College that is called Lunchtime by Sharon Lockhart. It features workers at Bath Iron Works and their lunch pails. Our friend Mark Roman, a wood worker from Solon, was hired by the Colby art museum to build the platforms that much of the art work was displayed on. The artist also had a wonderful half-hour film about workers in Maine featuring many different work venues across the state.

In the evening we went to the Maine International Film Festival in Waterville and saw two films. The first was a 1930's film called The Silent Enemy about an Ojibwas tribe from upper Ontario...this silent film gave a remarkable view of their struggle to survive in a winter of famine.

The second film was called Do It Again about a Boston Globe writer (Geoff Edgers) who goes on a crusade to bring my favorite band, The Kinks, back together. The song above from their last album called Phobia (1993) was in a way prophetic as the two brothers (Ray and Dave Davies) finally broke the band up after years of celebrated conflict over control of the group and the music. It's really a wonderful film as Edgers travels far and wide attempting to interview other rock stars about their love for The Kinks and each time he seeks to have them sing a Kinks song with him. One great scene was when Sting humbly shares his admiration for the Davies brothers and plays You Really Got Me with Edgers.

A really touching moment in the film comes at the end when Edgars finally gets an interview with one of the brothers. He meets with Dave, who was recovering from a stroke, and in that exchange they sing one of Dave's songs called Strangers - one of the few that Ray allowed him to put on one of their records. Ray never agreed to be interviewed for the film - always an enigma.