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, January 15, 2011

NEW MAINE GOVERNOR TELLS NAACP "KISS MY BUTT"

Maine's new Tea Party-Republican Governor Paul LePage has just broken a long tradition in our state of attending the annual MLK, Jr. dinner put on by the NAACP. When the Maine NAACP expressed disappointment that he would not attend the event he blasted them via the media saying they could "kiss my butt."

According to Maine's largest newspaper:

LePage, a Republican who was sworn in last week, has an adopted son from Jamaica, Devon Raymond. He was on stage last week at the inaugural, along with LePage’s four other children.

LePage’s remarks angered the head of the state NAACP, the president of the national NAACP and the spokesman for Maine’s League of United Latin American Citizens.

“I don’t care who he’s got in his family,” Rachel Talbot Ross, state director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and president of the group’s Portland branch, told The Portland Press Herald. “And he’s saying we’re playing the race card? The makeup of his family isn’t the issue and it never was the issue. For him to say we’re playing the race card shows a real lack of awareness of the very important issues we’re working to address. Our kids deserve better. Maine deserves better. His son deserves better.”

Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the national NAACP, called LePage’s comments inflammatory.

“Gov. LePage’s decision to inflame racial tension on the eve of the King holiday denigrates his office,” Jealous told The Associated Press. “His words are a reminder of the worst aspects of Maine’s history and out of touch with our nation’s deep yearning for increased civility and racial healing.”

Maine has a tiny minority population and it's political leaders, both Republican and Democrat, have made special effort over the years to attend the MLK dinner (in either Bangor or Portland) or to at least send representatives from their offices if they were not able to attend. In years past Blacks in Maine were treated very badly and political leaders have tried to make amends for that sad history.

LePage, already proving to be a divider, could easily have sent someone in his place to the dinner and the story would have died there. But instead he has chosen to inflame the issue like he did several times with other sensitive issues during his controversial campaign. In the recent campaign for governor in Maine an Independent came in second and the Democrat came in third place in the voting. Maine's previous governor was a Democrat. The Republicans have also taken over the state legislature in Augusta for the first time in many years.

During his campaign for governor LePage aggressively sought the vote of the Tea Party movement in the state and was most popular in the northern, more conservative, part of Maine. While campaigning he was caught lying by the media on several occasions but the more he did that it seemed the more his support grew with angry working class voters. This latest episode with the NAACP indicates that LePage intends to chew up and spit out any constituency in the state that gets in his way.

Already since taking office LePage has begun the process of destroying Maine's environmental watch-dog department in state government. He has pledged to make the state more "open for business."

Note: As you listened to the video did you hear the unprofessional news reporter laughing along with LePage when he said the NAACP should "kiss my butt"? This is an indication of just how serious this issue is for people of color in Maine.

2nd Note: As we are quickly learning with LePage, you have to double check everything he says. In the short video he talks about the NAACP being angry with him for not visiting the prisons and meeting "only with blacks". The truth appears to be that during the campaign the NAACP organized a candidate forum in the prison (Maine prisoners are allowed to vote) and LePage blew it off while all other candidates appeared to speak with inmates of all colors.

I just called Channel 13 (WGME) in Portland 207-228-7600 to complain about their news reporter yucking it up with LePage. They were a bit defensive but it appears they are getting alot of phone calls.

Friday, January 14, 2011

MAKING MORE ENEMIES ENSURES LONG WAR

It's been a busy past few days in Afghanistan-Pakistan for the occupiers and "liberators" of the people there. U.S. drone strikes killed more innocent children (above) thus ensuring more enemies will be created. You can count on the fact that the family and relatives of these latest victims will rise up to throw the U.S. and NATO out of their country. That should keep the Pentagon busy at least up through 2014.

Additionally Press TV is reporting the following:

The daughter of an Afghan politician has reportedly died of her injuries after being raped by American soldiers stationed in Afghanistan's southwestern province of Farah.

US forces aboard five Toyota vans transferred the teenage girl along with several other Afghan women and girls to a military base in the province. They then sexually assaulted them, alleged Afghan sources.

Medical reports indicate that a young girl died as a result of severe bleeding that was caused by tears in her genitals from violent sexual penetration.

Two other victims were admitted to a nearby hospital and are currently receiving treatment for serious injuries they suffered following multiple rapes.

The incident comes as violence in Afghanistan has spiked to record highs since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Statistics about civilian death tolls in Afghanistan are not available. However, it is estimated that between 14,000 and 34,000 Afghan civilians have lost their lives since the US-led war.

The American army has lost 1,455 soldiers in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war.

How much longer will the people of the world allow this madness in Afghanistan-Pakistan to continue?

BECK CONTINUES PROMOTING HATE


This is a very important segment from today's Democracy Now. It should be seen by everyone.

For more than a year, Fox News host Glenn Beck has been increasingly targeting Frances Fox Piven, a 78-year-old distinguished professor of political science and sociology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Beck has repeatedly accused her of advocating violence and of hatching a plan in 1966 to overthrow the system.

I've known of Piven's work for years and it has been all about empowering the weakest people in our society. To see her being demonized by Glenn Beck is just unbelievable. But this is how the oligarchy is setting up the "angry right" to go after the "left" as the economy collapses instead of directing their frustration toward the corporate Wall Street elements that truly pull the strings in America. This is the brown shirts at work in our time.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

BROKEN PROMISES ABOUND


Not only is the closing of Guantanamo a broken promise. Now we are hearing this:

“We are not leaving in 2014,” V-P Joseph Biden assured President Hamid Karzai during a news conference in Afghanistan on Tuesday, insisting that the U.S. was prepared to continue with its military occupation “well beyond 2014" if Karzai wants us to stay.

Guess what? Karzai will ask us to stay. Of course he will. All very neat and tidy. Now if George W. Bush did this the "liberals" would be howling from the top of Capital Hill. But when a Democrat plays the shell-game there is virtual silence in Washington and from much of the peace movement. People still will find a reason to excuse Obama-Biden on these broken promises. Why are they afraid to challenge their own party? How can "liberals" expect to have any credibility any longer?

Currently there are some 150,000 NATO troops, predominantly from the U.S. in Afghanistan. In November, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen signed a long-term partnership agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai under which "NATO will stay as long as necessary to support Afghanistan until it can no longer become a safe haven for terrorism."

How do we pay for these occupations, now costing us $10 billion per month?

Here is a song for those out there who are "too scared to complain".


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CIVILITY DOES NOT MEAN CENTRISM

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Two black leaders being interviewed by a passel of mainstream media folks.

TWO FEET OF SNOW


We are having a big snow storm here now. So far we are well over one foot and by the time it finishes I would bet we'll be up to two feet of snow.

Three of us from the Addams-Melman House went out shoveling this morning for about an hour. We have two driveways and several paths that lead to the wood pile, shed, back doors, and compost pile. We are going back out again in another hour and it will likely seem as though we'd never done the first round.

One of my housemates told us that she saw on the Internet this morning that 49 states in the U.S. currently have snow on the ground, including Hawaii that has it on a mountain top. Only Florida is reportedly without snow. We'd be happy to send some down that way to our friends and relatives in the sunshine state. We can ship it overnight express if you'd like. We have plenty to share.

I've never heard of so much snow all over the nation at once before. It confirms for me that the present and the future will be all about very crazy weather patterns. It's happening everywhere. In the video below about farmers in India, one of them mentions the unpredictable weather that is messing up their crops. How can anyone so blindly deny climate change?

I feel just a bit frustrated because I got an email from the local newspaper that prints our Global Network newsletter Space Alert. It is ready to be picked up but I'd be insane to try to go out there now to get it. I am anxious to see the final product. We went to 20 pages in this upcoming edition. Many thanks to Selma Sternlieb in Brunswick for doing the layout work. It's a huge effort for her but she tells me she loves to do it.

CUBA - UNCERTAIN FUTURE

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

THE HISTORY OF AMERICA - THE GUN VERSION


From Michael Moore's film Bowling for Columbine

INDIA'S FARMERS LOSING HOPE


Mounting debts, international competition and climate change are all being blamed as the reason for a rising number of Indian farmers who are taking their own lives.

Official figures say at least 17,000 farmers committed suicide in 2009.

Al Jazeera's Sohail Rahman reports from the farming belt in India's Andhra Pradesh state.

AMERICA'S VIOLENCE CONTRADICTION

This photo is from a Junior-ROTC "field day" at a school in the south. The article along with the photo said, in part, "Maj. Hicks speaks to the eager group of Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadets about what it means to be a Cavalryman and what the Cavalry does."

I remember the Cavalry. They were the ones who hunted the Native Americans down and killed them. Now they do it in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

We weep and wail and wring our hands when domestic terrorists kill innocent people, as was done this past weekend in Tucson, Arizona. But each and every day our kids all over the nation are being brainwashed about the joys of violence, the thrill of war, the glory of killing the "enemy" and few blink an eye. People somehow separate the killing done by our "hero" soldiers from the senseless random slaughter on our streets at home.

But these can't be separated. They are linked. They come from the same wellspring. They come from America's addiction to war and violence.

We glorify the gun and we glorify the shooter. But then, just now and then, the nation says (as in the case in Arizona), "No, not this time. This violence was not good." But to those brought up listening to the overwhelming public support for guns and glory the messages are just a twisted jumble of confusion. The loudest bang is the one that gets internalized by the majority of the citizenry.

It could change, but we'd have to make a serious national commitment to step away from the bar stool where we keep taking just one more drink of the hot red blood of violence. It could change, but we'd have to keep our president home instead of thrilling in his secret holiday trips to visit the troops in Iraq or Afghanistan to remind them that the nation is behind their killing of innocent civilians in endless war. It could change, but the Congress would have to cut the military budget and transfer the money into mental health programs for those who are living close to the razor's edge and are just one radio talk show host's angry rant about "big government" away from a violent rampage.

It could all change, but each of us would have to do more than shake our head in disgust and say to ourselves, "This is a crazy country." We'd have to step up and take some responsibility, do something to publicly express our deep frustration and concern, and demand that we stop putting our children at the trigger end of machine guns.

We'd have to connect the dots between "random gun violence" and our national obsession with occupation and killing people around the world who happen to sit on land that is wanted, for whatever reason, by multi-national corporations.

We could do something, if we..............................

Monday, January 10, 2011

EMPIRE OF ISLAND BASES

One of the many photos the Navy has set up inside the busy tourist-filled Jeju Island airport as a way to "promote" the planned base in the Gangjeong village. These Aegis destroyers, built at Bath Iron Works in Maine, are outfitted with missile offense systems and will be used to surround China's coastline Yang Yoon-Mo, movie critic, has been living on the rocky coastline of Gangjeong village for many months trying to protect this area from being covered with cement to create piers to dock U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers. (Click on this image for the full beautiful view of this coast) Yang Yoon-Mo (on the right) was just released from jail on Jeju Island, South Korea after having been arrested on Dec 27 for attempting to block cement trucks

  • As previously reported, on December 27 thirty-four Gangjeong villagers and supporters were arrested for protesting against 66 cement trucks that were the first wave to begin covering their sacred coastline for the planned Navy base. All were released that day except for Yang Yoon-Mo, a movie critic who has been living on the rocky coastline for many months. The government had additionally charged him with several minor offenses from past protests, and maintained his seaside encampment was illegal, thus he was facing very stiff fines. Yang was refusing to pay the fines but Jeju activists raised the funds and sprung him from jail yesterday.

  • I was going to drive south to Andover, Massachusetts on Wednesday for a meeting with local activists to discuss the Global Network's 19th annual space organizing conference that is planned to be held in that community on June 17-19. The event is to be called: Raytheon, Missile Offense, and Endless War. But the weather reports indicate a big snow and wind storm sweeping through New England that same day so best I not try to make that drive. I hope to be able to reschedule it for later in the week as I need to get things moving along for the event. Our Global Network members are expected to attend this conference from all over the U.S. and around the world. Raytheon is headquartered in Massachusetts and has a "missile defense" production facility located in North Andover.

  • Peace activists in Hawaii are clear about the growing U.S. militarism in the Asian-Pacific region because the Pentagon's Pacific Command (PacCom) is headquartered there. Kyle Kajihiro, who works for the AFSC in Hawaii writes:

    Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary said “There’s no question in my mind that the importance of this region, the Asia-Pacific region and in particular Hawaii, and the vital role it will play in the future is not going to diminish.” This means that the threat of militarization will continue or worsen for places like Korea, Okinawa, Guam and Hawai’i. Peace and justice movements in this region will have to grow our movements and strengthen our networks within the region and with allies in the U.S. We need to call on peace and justice movements within the U.S. to understand developments in the Asia Pacific region, and especially the importance of small island bases in the expansion and maintenance of U.S. empire, and to step up their own efforts to dismantle the oppressive “empire of bases” (to borrow a phrase from the late Chalmers Johnson). Now that fiscal realities are finally forcing some in Washington to consider the taboo subject of cutting the military budget, the U.S. peace and justice movements have an opportunity to advocate for the reduction of the military troops and bases around the world.



Raytheon's Patriot (PAC-3) missile offense system is being deployed by the Pentagon in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Israel and seven other countries.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

SHERIFF DUPNIK'S STRONG WORDS


This video is where Sheriff Dupnik in Tucson talks about the toxic political environment in Arizona and the U.S.

His strong words start at around 2:25

SUNDAY SONG