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, August 14, 2010

THE DEPRESSION IS HERE


30,000 people outside of Atlanta, Georgia trying to grab an "application" to get on a public housing waiting list.

And the politicians (Democrats and Republicans alike) are funding endless war at more than $7 billion a month.

Isn't it time to connect the dots?

LATEST GOP NONSENSE


The Republicans are going for broke now in hopes of retaking control of Congress in November. They are increasingly hyping the immigrant and terrorist threat - particularly this new angle of claiming that terrorists will come have their babies inside the U.S. and then incubate them for the next 20-30 years outside the country before sending them back to "destroy our way of life".

The Republicans are demonizing Mexicans so badly that any hopes they had of making inroads into the Hispanic community are now shot to hell.

They are making Muslims and immigrants the new "Commie" threat and apparently having enough success with some portion of the electorate that many analysts think they will in fact do well at the polls in November.

Here in Maine the Republican party has been largely captured by the right-wing zealots and their candidate for governor is a doosey. He says climate change is a "hoax", wants to teach creationism in the schools, is in favor of off-shore oil drilling (Maine is a fishing state), and a whole lot more. Just days ago the former Vice-chair of the Maine Republican party wrote an op-ed for the state's largest newspaper endorsing the Democrat candidate for governor, saying the Republican was off his rocker.

This strategy of creating widening disgust and hatred among the electorate is just what the ruling oligarchy wants. The more people that drop out of voting the better for them as it makes winning elections for their corporate candidates that much easier.

And as long as the public is clawing each others eyes out they can't focus their real attention on the ruling class at the very top of the pyramid who are taking us all to the cleaners.

The job of the Republicans at this current moment in history seems to be to act as the clowns. These "know-nothings" make the Democrats look better to the average voter who can't hardly stomach them either.

Either way the corporate oligarchy comes out a winner.

Those of us who are fed up with this whole process need to figure out a new path around the obstacle.

Friday, August 13, 2010

MORE SUMMER FUN IN AMERICA

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2010 - Primary Proxy Battle Theme
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Politics in the good ole USA turns to entertainment and "professional" wrestling.

We are in big trouble folks.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

50 YEARS OF VIGILS


Members of the Committee for Nonviolent Action return to Connecticut 50 years after the Polaris submarine protests.

DIGGIN IN

I thought they were finished digging up our street directly in front of our house - but I was wrong. They have now torn up the street three times to lay different pipes. This photo above (found on the Internet) gives just half of the true picture.....imagine a hole like this all the way across the street with dust flying everywhere.

I've got so much grit in my teeth that I feel like I'm on the tail end of a cattle drive in West Texas.

I can't help but wonder what level of toxicity we are ingesting from this swirling dirt? Luckily it rained two nights ago and helped for a few hours pat the dust down. But the sun is shining today and the air is filled with it again.

They've dug so close to us that my squash garden in the front yard is now being impacted. Can we eat the squash that is ready for picking or has the road dust creeped into the fiber of the zucchini?

I'm almost getting used to the ever present beep-beep-beep sound of the big bulldozers and their diesal engines. The pounding of the rock blasters almost harmonizes with The Kinks when I am listening to a CD. The sound of tires on the rocky surface of the road though makes me shudder because I know that a few seconds later the dust cloud will drift toward the house and find its way through the one open window and into my mouth.

I spit at this never ending road work.

ISRAEL DOES THIS ALL THE TIME


Journalist Max Blumenthal writes about this destruction of an Arab village by Israeli military:

In the middle of the night on August 10, residents of the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Arakib sent a panicked text message to Israeli activists in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Israeli police helicopters were buzzing overhead, surveying the scene ahead of what was likely to be a new round of demolitions. Three activists staying in the village had been nabbed during a night raid. Having already witnessed the razing of their homes twice in the past two weeks, the residents of Al-Arakib expected the third round of demolitions to arrive tonight, on the eve of Ramadan. During Ramadan, when the villagers fasted all day, the police and Israeli Land Adminstration reasoned they would be too weakened to rebuild — it was prime time for destruction.

The villagers remain devoted to the nomadic Bedouin tradition. (Why else would they resist with such tenacity the Israeli government’s plan to resettle them in one of the Indian reservation-style “development communities” the state has created for them?) However, they have established a permanent presence in the areas around their village that pre-dates the foundation of Israel. Al-Arakib’s cemetery, for example, contains the graves dating back to the end of the 19th century. Yet the Bedouins’ historical claim to the Negev has not convinced the state that they deserve legal recognition. Nor have their attempts to demonstrate their loyalty by serving as front-line combat soldiers in the Israeli Army. In the eyes of the state, the Arabs of the Negev are at best quasi-human.

After the Israeli Police completed their third demolition of Al-Arakib, the villagers collected the remains of their homes and, with the assistance of a few international and Jewish Israeli activists, began rebuilding again. Without any recourse from the state or its courts, they have no other option but to start over from scratch. And they have nowhere else to go.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

PILGER SCORES OBAMA


Renowned journalist John Pilger maintains that Barack Obama has failed to change the trajectory of U.S. foreign policy and is following George W. Bush's line.

"For the first time in U.S. presidential history -- it has not happened before -- a president has taken the entire defense department bureaucracy, and the Secretary of Defense, from a previous discredited administration. We have basically Robert Gates and the same generals running American foreign policy with a lot of help from people of like mind."

EXCELLENT FILM

I just watched this excellent documentary by Kunstler's two daughters about their father. Very well done. It covers a significant portion of 60-80's movement history.

The film will be streaming online for a limited time. Streaming will end at midnight Pacific Time on September 21, 2010.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

WATCH BOTH HIS HANDS





Obama's Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says the "left" out to be "drug tested" because of their criticisms of the president. It just goes to show that Obama thinks "the left" should submit to his authority and suspend its critical analysis of his policies.

He doesn't believe in real democracy, he wants people to follow him like sheep.

LIFE IN AMERICA: THERE IS NO GOD

Actually Michael it is OK....the Constitution gives you the absolute right to think for yourself.

You don't need more presents anyway so don't worry about Christmas. Let your gift be mental liberation......

HIGH SCHOOL DEBATE TOPIC: U.S. BASES IN ASIA

John Hines meets Professor Kang Jung-Koo in Seoul

My son Julian was a high school debater and now coaches high school debate. He recently told a friend of his (John Hines) to contact me who was on his way to South Korea. John told me that the high school debate topic for the next year will be "Whether or not to decrease U.S. military presence in Asia."

John was being sent on a mission to Asia to do advance research so that American high school students would have a base of knowledge to turn to as they debated the issue in the coming year.

I put John in touch with our Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi in South Korea and she arranged to take him on a fast-paced tour throughout her country to meet peace and reunification activists. Below is one of John's reports from one meeting. You can see more of his reports at his blog here


THE TRAGEDY OF THE LOVELY COUPLE

August 5th began with Sung-Hee and me meeting and interviewing Professor Kang Jung-Koo of Dong-Guk University. Professor Kang will soon retire from the Department of Sociology where his research interests include Korean reunification and contemporary Korean history. Professor Kang is also the director of the Research Institute for Peace and Reunification of Korea, and is affiliated with an activist organization called SPARK (“Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea”). The interview was conducted at the SPARK offices in Seoul and lasted just under two hours. Professor Kang is a very controversial figure in South Korea whose statements regarding the Korean War and reunification of Korea have landed him in court for violating South Korea’s National Security Law. Our interview begins with him explaining why the South Korean Government has prosecuted him.

Professor Kang: In the year 2005 which marked both the 60th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan and the 60th anniversary of a foreign military presence by the United States and thus our forced division, I began arguing that we should celebrate this 60th anniversary with a withdrawal of foreign military forces from South Korea. Also, during this time I wrote an article on the Internet about the General MacArthur statue in Incheon where I argued it was time to get rid of that statue because he was at the forefront of our country’s division. In fact, he advocated dropping as many as 26 Atomic bombs on North Korea; therefore we should not continue to honor his memory with this statue. I have also been very publicly critical of the US military’s actions during the Korean War. For all of these reasons I am now being prosecuted for violating our National Security Law.

My main argument is that if there had been no intervention by the US into the internal affairs of liberated Korea at the end of World War II, Korea would never have been divided and we would not have had to suffer the tragedy of the Korean War. IF the US did not intervene in the Korean War, the war would have ended in a month without the killing of as many as 3 million Koreans and 1 million Chinese. IF there had been no intervention in 1950 during the first period of the Korean War, we would not have suffered such a tragedy. The Korean War was a war of reunification and would have ended quickly and resulted in a unified Korea.

The professor explains to me that his case has gone all the way to the South Korean Supreme Court and he has received a suspended sentence of two years in jail for advancing this argument in his academic writings and public advocacies. He is currently awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court to discover whether or not he will serve prison time for arguing that the US military should never have intervened in the internal affairs of Korea. At this point I ask him to elaborate and explain the historical hypothetical he has advanced.

Professor Kang: The US is 90% responsible for the division of Korea. If there had been no forced division there would never have been a civil war. By 1950 both the US and Russian militaries had left Korea (the US military left in June 1949, and Russia’s military left in December 1948). On July 1st, 1950 the US military returned to Korea in order to intervene in our civil war. Therefore the civil war is a product of interference by foreign powers.

Even though Korea has been divided for over 65 years, I think most Koreans (both North and South) want a re-unified Nation. We have the same identity. Even though there are many differences between South and North in the way of culture, ways of living and thinking we still have a shared identity and desire to be reunited. Prior to our forced division, we had been a united country since the 7th century, that’s over 1400 years as a single country and people.

The story of the “lovely couple” can be used here to understand Korea’s current struggle. When a husband and wife are married, they are “ONE,” but in this story the neighborhood gangster intervened and forced them to be divorced (the US is of course this neighborhood gangster). The majority of Koreans want to be reunited as a “lovely couple” again through peaceful means.

My question: “Can you elaborate on your writings about the US military government in Korea collaborating with pro-Japanese Koreans after World War II? Specifically, how do you think the US military occupation of Korea resembles the Japanese occupation of Korea prior to World War II?”

Professor Kang: If there had been no intervention, the liberated Korea would have cleaned up the pro-Japanese national traitors. In 1946 North Korea acted to root out the pro-Japanese influence in their government and society in order to counteract the legacy of Japanese Imperialism. Therefore, the ruling party of North Korea has no legacy of Japanese imperialism and they are able to maintain self-reliance. This rejection of US imperialism for the last 65 years must be understood as a continuation of the struggle against Japanese imperialism.

On the contrary, in the South there is an opposite history. When the US entered Korea, they had no friends on the Peninsula that would help them administer their military occupation. When the US wanted South Korea to take a Capitalist route rather than a Socialist route, most of South Korea wanted to have a Socialist system rather than a Capitalist system. In July 1946 the US Military Government in Korea conducted a survey of South Koreans and discovered that 71% of respondents wanted a Socialist system, 7% wanted a Communist system, and only 14% wanted a Capitalist system. If the survey had been conducted in 1945, before the US Military Government in Korea made it clear they were opposed to any form of Communist of Socialist system, I would say that almost 90% of Korean people (both North and South) wanted a Socialist system rather than a capitalist system. That is why the US could not find friends in either the North or the South.

The US Military Government needed pro-Japanese national traitors to cooperate with them to help institute a pro-Capitalist regime. For the pro-Japanese, to be friends with the US was the only way to keep their power and status in Korean society. Therefore there emerged a very close alliance between the US military occupation and the pro-Japanese national traitors. This is the reason we had so many small on-going wars (referred to as people’s uprisings) starting in October 1946 and leading up to the Korean War in 1950. In 1946 alone more than 10,000 Koreans were killed by the US occupying forces. These small wars lasted from 1946 to 1950, and because of these wars almost 100,000 Koreans lost their lives.

Also important to understand is that the Korean War was not a “war of aggression.” A “war of aggression” is between two separate sovereign countries, but the North and the South are not separate sovereign countries—we are one country, one nation with two different governments. Therefore, this is a civil war. It is true that North Korea mobilized their military and invaded South Korea. They believed the war would end in one or two months without such tragedy. This was an internal conflict; there was no reason for neighbors to intervene in the internal affairs of the “lovely couple.” As I explained we are like a married couple that was forced by the neighborhood gangster to divorce, so it is natural for us to get reunited after the neighborhood gangster has left.

My question: “So Professor Kang, what can American high school students do in order to facilitate the process of allowing this ‘lovely couple’ to be reunited?”

Professor Kang: Most Americans do not know the real story of our country’s division and the ensuing Korean War. For example, in 2002 I met Thomas Friedman of the New York Times and we talked for about 90 minutes. He later wrote some articles about South Korea and the North Korean nuclear crisis and I was very disappointed to notice that he didn’t appear to know anything about the real story of what is actually going on between North Korea and South Korea. Therefore, we must start by getting to the Real Story of our country’s division, the tragedy of the Korean War, and of the inevitability of North Korea’s development of nuclear powers in order to protect itself against attacks from the United States. In the history of crises on the Korean peninsula since the end of the Korean War, out of 11 crises all but 2 were initiated by United States actions and belligerence towards North Korea. In the face of the US military aggression what can North Korea do? They do not have the money to cope with South Korean and United States military spending; therefore the most economic way to defend themselves is to develop nuclear bombs. Only a nuclear bomb can guarantee North Korea’s security in such a situation. When North Korea first announced the test of their nuclear weapons, the official announcement of North Korea stated that when the hostile policies of the United States towards North Korea cease they would be willing to give up their nuclear weapons.

The first step is to get American citizens to know all these true details of US involvement in Korea. If they know they will realize there is no reason for the US military to be here in the Korean peninsula. The Korean peninsula is not safe because of US military presence; instead it is “the most dangerous place in the world” because of the US military presence. So the conclusion is clear, the first step is to get the US military out of Korea. Then, we (North and South) can refuse the offensive military orientation towards each other and transition towards defensive oriented military systems and we can begin to work towards peaceful reunification and cooperation between North and South.

PENTAGON HEARS THE TRAIN OF CUTBACKS COMING


Obama has ordered his Secretary of War Robert Gates to tinker around the edges of the bloated Pentagon budget in order to create the illusion that they are making serious cuts. While the nation's economy is collapsing the Congress is starting to squirm as the public begins to demand an end to war spending and a halt to massive investments in the big ticket weapons systems.

The public is coming to the conclusion that we can't have guns and butter anymore. Obama, ever the magician, has chosen to instruct Gates to play the classic shell game.

According to the Washington Post:

Although the moves will save an unspecified amount of money, defense officials characterized them as a political preemptive strike to fend off growing sentiment elsewhere in Washington to tackle the federal government's soaring deficits by making deep cuts in military spending. The Obama administration has exempted national security from its budget reductions, but Gates said he fears that Congress might not be able to resist for long.

"It is important that we not repeat the mistakes of the past, where tough economic times or the winding down of a military campaign leads to steep and unwise reductions in defense," Gates said. He cited threats from Iran, North Korea and other countries -- in an implicit reference to China -- as justification for continued overall growth in the Pentagon's budget.

Despite soaring federal budget deficits, the Obama administration has asked Congress to increase defense spending next year from $535 billion to $549 billion, not counting the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This story does illustrate though that the peace movement is having some impact in Washington. The proposed October 2 march in Washington for jobs and peace called by the AFL-CIO and NAACP strikes fear in the hearts of the warmongers because they are deeply concerned about the real possibility of a grand coalition of labor, people of color, and the peace movement.

Some in the labor movement have figured out that if we stop spending money on endless war that we'd be able to build rail systems, buses, wind turbines, and other sustainable technologies that would be good for the environment and actually create more jobs here at home.

This is the time for all peace activists to put the peddle to the metal - step on the gas. Pump up the jam. Demand cuts in military spending. Reach out to teachers, union workers, communities of color, the unemployed, environmentalists and make a collective demand in your local community to convert the military industrial complex.

Don't be fooled by the trickster though as the Obama administration throws a couple of crumbs in front of the angry crowds. These cuts they are proposing are minuscule. We must demand an end to war spending in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan and we must demand that this aggressive U.S. military empire of bases be dismantled.

An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.
Thomas Paine

Monday, August 09, 2010

OPEN THEM EYES

Old but still relevant.....we either face the music or turn and walk away in denial. Either way there is a price to pay.

THE LEGACY OF NAGASAKI

The U.S. has produced a comic book to "celebrate" the relationship between the two nations

As we remember the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki 65 years ago today it is instructive to take a look at what the U.S.-Japan "special relationship" has become.

CNN reports about a cartoon book created by U.S. Forces in Japan: "Entitled Our Alliance; A Lasting Partnership and available for free download from the U.S. Forces Japan website, it casts the politically charged relationship as a metaphor in which a cuter-than-cute little boy named Usa (get it?) visits the home of his equally cuter-than-cute Japanese friend Arai Anzu (say it aloud: 'alliance.')"

When I first went to Japan in 1985 for the Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemoration events the Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone, attending one of the ceremonies, called his country the U.S.'s "unsinkable aircraft carrier" in the Asian-Pacific. Not much has changed since.

As we now see the doubling of U.S. military operations in the region, and the U.S. pressuring Japan to get rid of Article 9 in their constitution that forbids an offensive military, it is evident that the U.S. strategy to surround China relies on Japanese collaboration.

It was recently announced that the U.S. is pushing Japan to export the Aegis destroyer-launched Standard Missile-3 systems (SM-3), which would signal a dramatic change from the country's current ban on selling arms and weapons. The SM-3 system is a key component in the Pentagon's "missile defense" program that is really intended to take out Chinese nuclear retaliatory capability following a U.S. first-strike attack - something that is annually war gamed at the U.S. Space Command.

The U.S. has colonized Japan (and South Korea) since the dropping of the atomic bombs near the end of WW II. It uses both countries as jumping off bases in order to project power in the region.

In an editorial on the Chinese web site called Global Times they talk openly about the need for China to respond to growing U.S. efforts in the region to control China's growth. They conclude, "Taking on China as a competitor may serve as an incentive to the US. If the US takes China as an enemy, the result would be disastrous."

In the meantime the Obama administration is stepping up war games in the Yellow Sea just off China's coast. A Pentagon spokesman announced on August 6 that the USS George Washington aircraft carrier will participate in a joint U.S.-South Korean military exercise in the Yellow Sea "in the near future."

The influential China Daily connected the expansion of a U.S.-led equivalent of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to a hostile policy toward China, stating, "the U.S. has seemingly become less restrained in its move to push forward an Asian version of the NATO with its allies in the region."

The U.S. supposedly dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to defeat an out-of-control fascist imperial power. But looking back on the 65 years since those immoral atomic bombings it has become crystal clear that the U.S. has always planned to become the imperial power in the Asian-Pacific. Japan, South Korea, Guam, Australia and some number of other nations in the region seemed resigned to their fate as junior partners in this deadly game of U.S. military expansion.

The peace movements in those countries, just like those of us in the U.S., have their hands full trying to stop the maddening arms race that results from these current imperial ambitions. Let the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki motivate us to strongly oppose these destabilizing moves by our countries, knowing that full scale war in the region is the worst thing that could happen.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

LIGHTS OUT IN AMERICA

While I was working at my table at the Peace Fair yesterday in Brunswick Peter Woodruff came up to me and handed me a copy of the New York Times. He pointed out two articles on the front page. One was entitled "Nation Lost 131,000 Jobs As Governments Cut Back" and the other was called "Budget Ax Falls, and Schools and Streetlights Go Dark". The latter one began with:

Plenty of businesses and governments furloughed workers this year, but Hawaii went further — it furloughed its schoolchildren. Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation and sending working parents scrambling to find care for them.

Many transit systems have cut service to make ends meet, but Clayton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, decided to cut all the way, and shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders.

Even public safety has not been immune to the budget ax. In Colorado Springs, the downturn will be remembered, quite literally, as a dark age: the city switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters.


The Peace Fair was an all-day event held in the center of Brunswick on the town green. All day long cars and walkers passed by the event that drew a decent crowd. As they went by they could not miss the Bring Our War $$ Home banner nor the big black banner with white letters that read "Make Jobs Not War" created by Maine Veterans for Peace member Tom Sturtevant.

At my table a big stand-up sign had been created by PeaceWorks that had a graph and a pie chart showing how much of every tax dollar is today spent on the military (54%) and how much the U.S. spends annually on the military compared to the rest of the world. Quite a number of people took a good look at this.

The majority of the public though did not stop and browse the many organization tables at the Peace Fair.

But I was OK with that because I knew they were reading these banners as they passed by. They saw the big white tents with many organizational tables and lots of people inside them. They saw the bands on the stage playing music and they saw folks sitting listening to the music. They got the message that many people had gathered and because of those two banners being prominently displayed they had an idea what it was all about.

Those anti-war folks are raising sand again.

And they are talking about jobs and about the cost of the war.

All of this is on the public's mind as they hear about lay-offs, schools closing, and cutbacks in services.

Every peace group should be out there making these obvious connections between war spending and social collapse. It's lights out clear to me.