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 18, 2010

THE HOPE MAN IN ACTION



Here is the hope man.....Chris Hedges acknowledged to me on Thursday that he has been getting some heat from folks for his "stark" ruminations about our future.

He said he's been trying to address the "hope" question in his writings the last few months. He put it all together at the rally before the White House civil disobedience action.



HOLIDAY PARTY CONVERSATIONS



Guest piece by my good friend and fellow Maine activist Lisa Savage - telling the truth

See no evil, hear nothing but NPR, say Merry Xmas!

By Lisa Savage

'Tis the season of holiday parties, a chance to see people and relax a bit. Mark and I don't get invited to old friends' dinner parties much anymore; no one would ever say why, but I imagine it's because people are afraid we will talk about politics and bum them out. We did get invited to a neighborhood Christmas party last week, and went and had a good time. Tonight we will drive about an hour to attend the annual holiday gathering of a peace and justice group in the western Maine mountains. I'm sure it will be a very different crowd.

At last week's party I wore what my husband affectionately described as "your Bradley Manning schoolgirl look." I put a festive red cardigan over my Free Bradley t-shirt, and then asked myself what a high school kid would wear with such an ensemble (short skirt over leggings plus boots). I love my Bradley Manning t-shirt but don't get to wear it much. It's too cold outside, and I don't dare bring political messaging to my place of work.

Only one person remarked on my shirt, asking me about its cool graphics. When I said it was Bradley Manning he replied, "Who's that?" I said it was the person who supplied WikiLeaks with the info in the first place. Still no recognition. This person has advanced degrees and teaches at a local college. "I am sorry I asked, please stop. I have been depressed lately," he told me. Wow.

I was careful not to bring up politics because NOBODY WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IT! When they ask what I have been up to lately, they do not really want me to tell them. I talked about the weather, holiday plans, people's health, family news, and anything else but. Old friends we have kind of lost touch with avoid us because they are afraid we do not know how to act politely at parties anymore. I was determined to prove them wrong. But I suppose I blew it in advance by wearing my t-shirt.

Anyway, I was in a discussion about the weather for upcoming holiday travel with two people I have known for years. They were wondering if it was snowing in Washington DC that day and I said that it was because I had just seen a video of a snowy scene where "hundreds of people got arrested today for chaining themselves to the White House fence."

The two partygoers turned away from me in unison, as if we were in a dance that had been rehearsed.

Which I suppose we were.

Most of our these local friends started out standing on the bridge with us in '03, '04, maybe '05. Then a lot of people quit coming. I have never challenged anyone on this or asked them to defend their decision, but a ton of them have rushed up to me in the produce department or at the post office to apologize guiltily, mostly explaining either that they were too busy or stopped because "it didn't make any difference -- nothing changed." (The general public in the U.S. has the historical awareness and political sense of very young children.)

Over the years many, many people have thanked Mark and me for continuing to publicly vigil for peace, and to protest the wars. I think the message is: Keep it on the bridge where it belongs, but don't bring it to our parties.

Almost all of these people do charitable works, and a lot of them happen to be artists. Either they do not consider political organizing fun, inspiring, and exciting -- or it's too scary. Maybe some combination of the two.

Maybe there is a lot of guilt for continuing to live well while children in Afghanistan starve and freeze in between air strikes we are financing.

I can't be sure about any of that, but I am pretty sure about this: any literate person with Internet acces who cannot identify Bradley Manning is in a willful state of ignorance.

Bliss? I doubt it.

WITHDRAW YOUR CONSENT FOR WAR

Friday, December 17, 2010

WAITING ON THE PARK POLICE




I am on the train heading home…will be a late night since I have to switch from Amtrak to a bus once I get to Boston and I will likely have a good wait.

I spent much of the day waiting inside the National Park Police headquarters building with about 25 others who were arrested yesterday at the White House.

Everyone that refused to pay the $100 fine had to go to the Park Police HQ to get their court date. They told us to come at 8:00 am so I got a ride with the seven women from Western Massachusetts who were also arrested. When we arrived there were a handful of others already waiting. We tried to hand the police our yellow slip of paper outlining our charge, “Reusing to obey a lawful order”, but they said they were only processing a few at a time. This made no sense.

After five hours of waiting, and continually being hassled by the Park Police who would not allow us to use their restroom or have more than seven people at a time waiting in the lobby, I finally left for the train station. I had already told the cops I was going to leave whether they “finished” my paperwork or not, I had a train to catch. They told me a “bench warrant” would be issued for my arrest if I left. One of the women from our group drove me to the nearest subway stop and while we were in her car she got a phone call saying my paperwork was done and one of the women grabbed it for me after telling the cops I had gone outside to take a leak. She will mail it to me.

It wasn’t until a couple of the people who were tired of waiting called their Congresspersons office, to complain that the Park Police would not allow us to use the toilet, that the cops relented and allowed people to use a port-a-toilet in the garage where we were first brought the day before for processing.

We were told over and over again today that their computers were down…… just imagine all that money paid to corporations to run these big government computer systems and they don’t work. But we never believed this one. They were just pushing us to pay the $100 fine as they kept telling us that if we would just hand over the money we could leave right away – they wouldn’t need the computer to process that transaction they said – yeah right!

This morning before leaving the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House for the Park Police station we checked the Washington Post to see what coverage they gave to the protest. There was no article but they did have a large close-up photo of Daniel Ellsberg and a few other people holding a banner. In the photo caption the Post reported that Ellsberg and “several others” were arrested for not dispersing. Several others! More than 130 arrested (we’ve heard 131, 135, and 138) and they say several…..the Post and other major papers dragged us into these wars and now mislead the public about the resistance to them.

Are they afraid of the American people? Damn right they are.

Former career CIA agent Ray McGovern was arrested with us yesterday. He had this to say about what he hoped to see come of the exercise in civil disobedience:

There's a saying that hope is the twin. Augustin said that hope has two daughters-- anger and courage. What we have seen in our [trying to stop the war] policy is a lot of anger.....but anger is not enough, you've got to have courage.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

UP AGAINST THE FENCE





There were 131 arrested at the White House today as hundreds turned out in the cold and snow for the Veterans for Peace action calling for an end to the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We waited holding onto the fence for over an hour before the Park Police began arresting us. They loaded three city buses with the resisters and drove us about six miles to the headquarters of the DC Park Police where we were quickly processed and released. We were given two options: pay a $100 fee and be done with it or instead plead not-guilty and be scheduled for a trial at some point down the road - likely in the spring. I chose the latter and all of us who plead not-guilty have to return to the Park Police HQ tomorrow to get our date to return for arraignment.

I then made my way back to the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House where I stayed last night and will stay again tonight. Also here are seven women from Northampton, Massachusetts (including 91 year old activist legend Frances Crowe) who all got arrested today as well.

In the beginning of the video you can see me in a blue jacket - I was one of the first to jump over the barrier that the police had put in place in order to try to keep us away from the fence. The police were actually quite good to us today, very gentle and friendly, with many of them smiling and putting our handcuffs on very loose. I was able to slip out of mine quite easily after I was put on the bus.

There was alot of international and alternative media covering the action today but we saw no sign of any of the corporate network TV being there. No surprise really in America where information is tightly controlled.

The best speech of the day, at the rally that kicked off the event, was by award winning journalist Chris Hedges. He has often been criticized for his strong and direct analysis of the current situation in the U.S. (his book called "The Death of the Liberal Class" being one example) but today he challenged us using the word "hope" over and over again. He told us that civil resistance to the empire, at a time when reform is dead inside the halls of Washington DC, is the only way to create hope.

So essentially in answer to his critics Hedges is challenging them to either put up or shut up. You want hope he is saying, then get off your arse and go out and organize non-violent resistance to the war machine!

It was a special experience to be with so many veterans in this act of truth. Dan Ellsberg, who helped turn me into a peace activist with his release of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, was beaming like a lighthouse along the rocky Maine coastline as he hung onto the fence.

Our job now is to extend this energy into our local communities - places like Maine where the newly elected Republican controlled state legislature is going to cut $800 million more out of the budget - most of it will come from social programs.

We've got to increase our efforts to connect the dots between war spending and social collapse.

See two photo slideshows from the action here and here

Additional video coverage here

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

STOP THE WAR GRAVY TRAIN

I am on the bus heading to Boston where I will transfer to a train for Washington DC. When I arrive in DC I'll grab a taxi and get to a local church just in time to attend the Veterans for Peace meeting to review plans for the anti-war action tomorrow at the White House.

There are five of us from Maine (that I am aware of) who will be joining this protest. Four of us are members of Maine Veterans for Peace. I have no clue how many people will attend this event which begins at 10:00 am with a rally in Lafayette Park just across the street from the White House and concludes with a civil disobedience action in front of "the people's" house.

Years ago I was arrested for sitting in front of the White House along with alot of other activists who at that time were opposing U.S. policy in Central America. I don't remember for sure if we spent the night in jail or not. I have no idea what is likely to happen to us this time around.

I am glad to be joining this event although I must acknowledge that I don't believe that Obama can be reached by moral, ethical or fiscal appeals in relation to his war on Afghanistan. I am essentially joining this action because I must. I am doing it because I feel that people right now have the responsibility to publicly stand in opposition to the empire's endless war machine. The public needs to know that someone cares and is taking action.

Obama and the Pentagon have already begun to signal that the 2011 withdrawal date from Afghanistan is being rubbed out and a 2014 date is being trotted out as the next target. But I don't have any faith in the 2014 date either. At the rate of $8 billion a month there is way too much money being made on the war to bring it to a halt anytime soon. It's a lucrative gravy train for many corporations.

I will be proud to join with the others tomorrow that are stepping forward to say enough of this insanity. I hope those of you at home will make a call and write a letter to the editor as a show of solidarity with those of us at the White House. This action will only be as effective as you help us make it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SANDERS ON CORPORATE WELFARE



How can there be economic recovery as long as the U.S. taxpayers subsidize multi-national corporations to move jobs overseas?

Chew on that one and see how it tastes......

We are being played like a fiddle.

GEORGIA PRISON STRIKE UNDERWAY


At least four prisons in Georgia remain in lockdown five days after prisoners went on strike in protest of poor living and working conditions. Using cell phones purchased from guards, the prisoners coordinated the nonviolent protests to stage the largest prison strike in U.S. history.

There are reports of widespread violence and brutality by the guards against the prisoners on strike. Democracy Now speaks to longtime prison activist Elaine Brown of the newly formed group Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights.

Monday, December 13, 2010

WIKILEAKS DOCUMENTARY


Excellent and detailed look inside the whole Wikileaks history and operation

THE WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN

There are some people in the power structure that you have to keep your eye on. One of them is Dana Milbank, a columnist at the Washington Post. (He also is a Skull & Bones member from his Yale days).

Milbank uses "satire" in his writings but he has a clear agenda and often uses a sharp knife to eviscerate his targets. Basically I'd call him mean spirited - but you'd expect that from someone who learned to worship skulls and bones inside the "Tomb" at Yale.

I've been formulating a theory for some years that the power structure is moving the vast majority of us onto the "reservation" because we are what you might call superfluous populations now that the corporations have moved jobs overseas. We're just not needed and the rich folks, like those that Milbank carries water for, can't leave it to chance that we will all accept our fate without raising a fuss.

My theory is heavily influenced by the treatment the "white man" bestowed upon the American Indians during earlier times. In particular I highly recommend the book by Mari Sandoz called "Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas". This historical novel is a masterpiece at describing the reason and methods used by the "Great White Father" in Washington to destroy the Sioux nation in the Dakotas after gold had been discovered in the Black Hills. Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull were the last two holdouts but were finally forced onto the reservation, and both ultimately killed, as the once great tribes of the plains were brought under control.

In this history you see the modus operandi of the military industrial complex as they fabricated stories of Crazy Horse back on the war path in order to justify continued appropriations for the weapons makers. In fact Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull had been brought onto the reservation and had no weapons, or horses, to their name. You can see that these methods of media and public manipulation and fear mongering are still being used to this day.

In the latest Milbank piece entitled "Obama finally stands his ground" he takes on the left for their opposition to the tax cut compromise that benefits the fat cats. He writes, "the White House has delivered to disgruntled liberals a message summed up by Vice President Biden in a private session with lawmakers on Wednesday: Take it or leave it."

Milbank's mission here is to sow discord within the "liberal" wing of American politics. He continues, "This is a hopeful sign that Obama has learned the lessons of the health-care debate, when he acceded too easily to the wishes of Hill Democrats, allowing them to slow the legislation and engage in a protracted debate on the public option."

After bringing the Indians onto the reservation the white rulers still worried that they might regroup (imagine that being done without weapons or horses or a way to feed themselves) so they turned Indian against Indian by manipulating the leadership into desperate struggles for power as they in fact sat powerless on the barren reservations in South Dakota.

Similarly Milbank undertakes this strategy in his piece by pitting liberal Democrat Peter Defazio (Oregon) and his supporters against Obama with this bit of dynamite:

"Ringleader DeFazio has played the role of irritant before. During a House Democratic caucus meeting with Obama last year, he went to the microphone to give his laundry list of complaints about the White House. Replied Obama: 'Don't think we're not keeping score, brother.'

"But if he kept score then, it was private. Now Obama is publicly taking on the DeFazio crowd, with his talk of 'sanctimonious' liberals and his warning that his opponents would be blamed for 'smaller paychecks' and 'fewer jobs.' For once, reporters could tell Obama was angry without asking White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for evidence."

The ruling elite are heading in a certain direction. They are smashing social progress and have learned that if they can destroy the opposition's ability to reorganize or regroup then they will have much more success in achieving their goal. So Milbank's job is to help turn the Democrats against one another, and to discredit those like Rep. DeFazio who dare stand up and speak against the bleeding of the working class to benefit the richest among us.

In other words, don't complain as we are putting you on the reservation. If you do we will take you out the way Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull were destroyed.

Milbank offers this threat near the end of his piece. He says, "Liberals, if they can see beyond their pique, should realize that the emergence of Obama's forceful leadership could be good for them."

Translation: You'll be better off if you keep your mouth shut and go along for the ride. Otherwise we are going to beat the shit out of you.

And Milbank's final message is to Obama. In his last paragraph he tells Obama that if he continues to smash those on the left he will be a success.

"One White House official told me that Obama will build a 'shifting set of coalitions, issue by issue' over the next two years. If so, and if Obama will no longer allow those in the Capitol to run his presidency, he'll have a strong couple of years."

The warning has been given.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

CORPORATE POLITICS AS PRO WRESTLING


The real straight talk express with Black Agenda Report's Glen Ford

Tag team corporate political parties

SUNDAY SONG - DOUBLE FEATURE



The Kinks...time for some spiritual rejuvenation.