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, October 02, 2010

BIG CROWD AT RALLY IN DC




It was a huge rally today in Washington. It started at noon and lasted until 4:00 pm. I left around 2:30 pm and as I walked the dozen blocks to the subway the sidewalks were still filled with thousands of people who were just arriving.

While on the metro I spoke to a union activist who had worked at the RFK stadium where 700 buses were parked. That is about 35,000 people right there. I would guess the protest had to have at least 75,000 - 100,000 people at it.

The peace continent met at 10:30 this morning in the shadow of the Washington monument and then marched over to the rally site at the Lincoln memorial. There couldn't have been many more than 1,500 peace activists in that grouping. It appears that because the One Nation organizers never really seriously included the peace movement's issues of war, peace, and military spending in the official literature and web site for the action, it had a negative impact on the response from peaceniks around the country.

I never heard any speaker from the peace movement while I was at the rally. Someone told me that maybe one would get to talk. So much for inclusion of a key constituency in the program. It really does indicate to me that the Democrats didn't want the peace issues to be given much of a sounding at the event.

There was a huge number of black people, and to a lesser degree Hispanics, at the rally. The SEIU (Service Employees International Union) was heavily represented. I heard that they paid for 600 of the 700 buses. The United Auto Workers (UAW) had a strong attendance too but not many other unions stood out in great numbers.

Those peace activists that were present were carrying many different signs with the Bring Our War $$ Home message on them. So it appears that the slogan is spreading. I met a peace group from suburban Maryland that carried a banner that had that slogan on it as well.

I hung out for some time with the Catholic Worker folks who had come from throughout the northeast for the rally. Then I walked around the entire rally site checking out the scene and getting a feel for the vibes in the crowd. My biggest sense of it all was that people were feeling good about being together in such a very ethnically diverse event. That was the best thing about the whole day.

The best chant I heard all day was from the activists behind the "Socialist contingent" banner. They were shouting: "Obama's no Socialist - but we are!"

My talk last night went very well at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House. We had a good discussion afterwards. I learned today that Dorothy Day's granddaughter was there. Not many of them knew very much about space issues so it was a good chance to bring them up to date on the work of the Global Network. They were also interested in hearing more about Maine's Bring Our War $$ Home campaign too.

It was particularly fun for me to see two old friends again at my talk. Patrick O'Neil and Paul Magno were involved in the 1984 Pershing Plowshares action in Orlando, Florida when I lived there. I helped organize support for them during their court trial. Their action, during the time of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, was very controversial in conservative Central Florida. (They poured their blood and hammered on a Pershing II nuclear missile launcher after they broke into the Martin Marietta Corporation.) Patrick lived with me and my son Julian for several months after he got out of prison. He is quite the character and a dedicated activist.

I am at the airport in Baltimore now waiting for my 9:00 pm flight back to Portland. I get the day off on Sunday and then head to Massachusetts on Monday for my talk at Merrimack College.

I did alot of walking today. I'm trying to get in walking shape for the Maine peace walk in November. I got a couple emails from Maine in the last day telling me that folks have begun registering with Veterans for Peace for the walk so that is exciting news.

Friday, October 01, 2010

AT THE CATHOLIC WORKER HOUSE


This photo was taken last night at our monthly Maine Veterans for Peace meeting. We spent a good deal of time going over the details of the November 2-11 peace walk through the state. While I am gone our walk committee made up of Doug Rawlings, Tom Sturtevant, Dan Ellis, and Bob Lezer will take over handling any loose ends.

I am in Washington DC now at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House where I will speak tonight in their regular series of talks they call "Clarification of Thought". It is a real honor to be invited to do this talk as many folks are coming into town in advance of the demonstration tomorrow. The house used to be a convent so it is quite large and can take in lots of guests. They also have four families of people from Africa and Latin America living here.

One person said they heard on the radio today that more than 100,000 are expected at the rally tomorrow.

EXECUTION ON THE HIGH SEAS


Gareth Porter: UN fact-finding mission says Israel "Executed" activists during attempted Gaza aid shipment

Thursday, September 30, 2010

GETTING READY TO HIT THE ROAD

  • I head to Washington DC in the morning for a talk at the Dorothy Day Catholic Workers house in the evening. Long-time Global Network supporter Art Laffin lives there and is a leading peace activist in the city. Years ago when we held the big protest actions at Cape Canaveral in Florida against plutonium space launches he would come down and help us with non-violence coordination of those risking arrest doing civil disobedience. Art organizes weekly vigils at the Pentagon and White House these days and has probably been arrested hundreds of times over the years for his resistance work against war and nuclear weapons.

  • On October 2, as I have previously written, I will take part in the One Nation protest in DC. My earlier analysis of this event seems to be holding true as any promotion that I have seen of it by unions or NAACP never mentions the words war or peace. It is only the peace movement that is talking about that part of the equation. The call is for jobs but one must keep asking where the $$ will come from to create these jobs unless we cut military spending. Peace folks will meet at 10:30 am on Saturday at 14th Street & Constitution Avenue NW in DC for an anti-war feeder march into the larger protest rally. I will be there carrying our Bring Our War $$ Home banner from Maine. I will fly home that evening and get ready for the next leg of my trip.

  • On Monday morning I head to Andover, Massachusetts to speak that evening at Merrimack College. The Raytheon aerospace corporation has a production facility in Andover where they work on an assortment of "missile offense" programs. My talk will cover what Raytheon is doing globally to help create the new arms race in space that they are also profiting from in a big way. Their sales in 2009 were $25 billion - they are the federal governments 4th largest contractor.

William J. Lynn III is Obama’s Deputy Secretary of Defense. Mr. Lynn served for six years on the staff of Senator Edward Kennedy as liaison to the Senate Armed Services Committee. He also served as senior vice president of Government Operations and Strategy at Raytheon Company, proof that “good Democrats” can find a comfortable home in the Military Industrial Complex - it’s a bi-partisan endless war system.

  • On Tuesday I leave for India where I will be on a tour until October 21. As usual I will do my best to blog while away but it might not always be possible to get Internet service as I move around the country. I'm sure I will be able to do some posting from airports though so I should have some access from time to time. I'll be able to make some observations about the Oct 2 DC protest events before I leave so check in later for that.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SCAPEGOATING THE BASE


I've been thinking for some time that the Obama White House's coordinated campaign to trash their base is part of a strategy on their part to blame the "hard left" after they lose the Congress in November.

Instead of admitting that their corporate policies are in fact disempowering the base they have been relentlessly attacking their own constituency for months.

Now others are beginning to see the writing on the wall as well. Just yesterday I saw several references to this coordinated attack plan on the Internet and then this video above lays it right out there on national TV.

My own feeling has long been that Obama was given the job as president because he was ambitious and had been thoroughly "vetted" by the oligarchy long ago. In fact six months before the election I read an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski in a British publication where he said that very thing, that he had vetted Obama and was confident he would make a good president. Of course he was talking about Obama being a good pick for the oligarchy, not for the grassroots "base".

So when the Democrats lose the House of Representatives (as they likely will) it is being set up in the public's mind that it was the unreasonable, picky, stubborn, whining, obstinate, left-wing, out-of-touch section of the party that was at fault. The "good" liberal Democrats, who usually do what the corporate dominated party leadership tell them to do, will then turn to us peacenik types and pull the Nader card on us. It's your fault that the Democrats lost Congress!

The outcome will be that the oligarchy will have broken the left further apart as they move to the next level of Obama's job which is to do what George W. Bush could never have done. Finish off social progress in the nation - all in the name of fighting against massive budget deficits. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, and the like will be further hit hard. Obama will turn to the public, throw up his hands and plead, "What else can I do? I have a Republican House now that I have to deal with. If those whining leftists had just bucked up and gone out and worked for Democrats this would have never happened."

You can smell the gun powder in the air. You know the assault is coming. The cannon ball is heading our way. You know they want to move the poor and the working class onto the reservation. All they need now is a scapegoat to divert attention away from the corporate handlers.

The people have been betrayed by Obama and his puppet masters. And now they are going to blame us for noticing.

We can either submit or get off our knees. We outnumber the oligarchy by the millions. It's your call now.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"IT'S LOST"


This CBS TV 60 Minutes reporter is a homer. She has done story after story over the years where she tries to put a happy face on the Iraq or Afghanistan wars.

But the truth of the Afghanistan quagmire is so hard to hide these days, no matter how much fresh varnish they put on it, that even the officers can't help but reveal it for the disaster that it is.

Bring Our War $$ Home.

WHINING ON THE LEFT

  • Three cheers for the 100 people who were arrested outside of the White House yesterday in the protest against mountain top removal of coal. Appalachia Rising reports, "Arrests included Appalachian residents; retired coal miners; renowned climate scientist, James Hansen; and faith leaders."

“The science is clear, mountaintop removal destroys historic mountain ranges, poisons water supplies and pollutes the air with coal and rock dust,” said former NASA climate scientist James Hansen, who was among those arrested. “Mountaintop removal, providing only a small fraction of our energy, can and should be abolished. The time for half measures and caving in to polluting industries must end.”

It's great to see environmentalists stepping up their non-violent resistance actions. More of this is needed. I can just imagine Obama peeping out of a White House window saying to himself, "But I told them this was 'clean coal'. Why aren't they out going door-to-door for Democrats instead of making trouble here at my house."

  • Vice-President Biden expressed just those kind of sentiments yesterday when he told the media, while on a campaign swing in New Hampshire, that he wanted to “remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives. This President has done an incredible job. He’s kept his promises."

And they wonder why their "base" is not working for their sorry party at this time. Can you say "Labour Party" in the UK? These arrogant Democrats punch the left in the mouth and then wonder why we are not whistling happy tunes for them through the gaps in our teeth.

  • More whining was happening at the offices of the FBI across the nation yesterday as well. Good crowds turned out to protest the FBI raids in Chicago, Minneapolis and other cities. The strong and immediate response to the Obama version of the Woodrow Wilson-era FBI "Palmer Raids" (against World War I anti-war activists) is very important.

  • Maybe something is happening here. Just maybe the two-year infatuation with the magician is finally coming to an end. Or maybe there is a realization among the left that Obama's days are numbered and that we need to get back in motion as we face the likely possibility of Republicans taking control again. Either way it is crucial that we kick things into high gear. Yesterday was a good sign.


Monday, September 27, 2010

PROMOTING PEACE WALK AT COUNTRY FAIR


I spent the weekend at Maine's historic Common Ground Fair working at the Veterans for Peace booth where we promoted the upcoming November 2-11 peace walk through our state. I read this morning that 27,000 people were at the fair on Saturday - an all-time high.

We were particularly pleased that many young activists showed interest in the walk. One of the goals of this walk has been to get more students involved in participation as we pass near their communities.

The walk will be talking about the costs of war - the cost in terms of $$ (we are spending $8 billion a month on Afghanistan); the cost to veterans in terms of PTSD and suicides; and the cost to the environment as the Pentagon is the world's biggest polluter since war is the ultimate environmental disaster.

We will have the full walk schedule posted on the Maine Veterans for Peace web site in the next few days.

The walk will be led by the Buddhist monks/nuns from the Nipponzan Myohoji order which does peace walks all over the world.

The fact that we are starting on November 2 (election night) is an important symbolic statement that no matter which party takes control of Congress the peace movement in Maine will be public, out in the streets, taking these important issues to the people.

We feel it is vital that as the clamp comes down on the peace movement from the feds (see FBI raid story below) that we increase our efforts to stand up and be counted.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

COLBERT TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS ON IMMIGRATION



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THE GOOD GUY WINS


In the BBC series the Power of Nightmares, there is a segment introducing Leo Strauss, the intellectual godfather of the Neocons. Strauss taught at the University of Chicago in the 1960's, and had some theories on the psyche of Americans and how they should be controlled.

Many felt he was a Jewish Nazi.

LIFE UNDER OBAMA- FBI RAIDS PEACE ACTIVISTS


Minneapolis, Minnesota

September 24, 2010.

The local peace community rallied quickly to protest and to act against the FBI search and seizure of 6 homes of peace activists and a local peace office. Computers, cell phones, files and records, passports were among items swept up in the early morning raid. This action came a few days after the FBI's Inspector General criticized the FBI for lying to Justice Department about raids and surveillance of peace groups after 9/11.

Doors were kicked in during the early morning raids in Minneapolis and Chicago and personal belongings including childrens’ artwork, posters of Martin Luther King, Jr, were taken, as well as cell phones, computers and boxes of paper records. About a dozen activists from Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan have been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury. The FBI emphasized that no arrests were made, but that evidence was being collected regarding the possible ‘material support’ of terrorism. The ‘material support’ statute is so broadly written that it can, and does, include international peace-building activities that are not in any way intended to support terrorism.

Here are some links if you want more info:
http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/09/fbi-serves-search-warrants-here-in-terror-probe.html and http://www.antiwarcommittee.org/?q=node/533

Demonstrations:

Monday 9/27:

Minneapolis, MN – 4:30, FBI Office Monday, 111 Washington Ave. S.

Chicago, IL – 4:30 Federal Building, Federal Plaza.

Kalamazoo, MI – 4:30 Federal Building, 410 W Michigan Ave

Salt Lake City, Utah – 9 AM at Federal Building

Durham, NC – 12 noon Federal Building, 323 E Chapel Hill St

Buffalo, NY- 4:30 pm at FBI Building – Corner of So. Elmwood Ave. & Niagara St.

Gainesville, FL – Monday, 4:30 PM at FBI Building

Tuesday 9/28:

NYC, NY - 4:30 to 6pm Federal Building, 26 Federal Plaza,

Newark, NJ – 5 to 6pm Federal Building Broad Street

Philadelphia, PA – 4:30pm Federal Building, 6th & Market,

Washington DC - 4:30 – 5:30 FBI Building, 935 Pennsylvania Ave NW.

Boston, MA - 5 pm, JFK Federal Building

Detroit, MI - 4:30 pm McNamara Federal Building, Michigan Ave. at Cass

Raleigh, NC - 9 am. Federal Building, 310 New Bern Ave

Asheville, NC - 5 pm Federal Building,

Atlanta, GA – Noon, FBI Building

Los Angeles, CA – 5 pm, Downtown Federal Building, 300 N Los Angeles St

Tucson, AZ – 5 pm Federal Building

Wednesday 9/29:

Albany, NY - 5 to 6 pm Federal Building