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....

My Photo
Name:
Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, December 24, 2011

THIS SIMPLE PHRASE

WHAT I WANT FOR XMAS

Here is my Christmas wish list......

  • I want the birds to live. I love birds.

  • I want this climate change to stop. Our weather in Maine is weird and getting weirder by the day. I've noticed neighbors planting banana trees and pineapple.

  • I want the public to turn off their TV's and hit the streets. Imagine how fun that would be.

  • I want the wars to stop - all of them.

  • I want to have a rail system that could take me anywhere I wanted to go. Each rail car with Wifi connection.

  • I want my local newspaper to be a newspaper again.....and print my latest Letter to Editor.

  • I want our Teabag governor in Maine to move to Jamaica.

  • I want there to be free health, dental, and mental health care for everyone. Pay for it with cuts in Pentagon spending.

  • I want Bath Iron Works to build rail cars and wind turbines which would mean they would have to hire more people.

  • I want the politicians to stop viewing their job as a career. Get elected, be real, and be done after one term. It's called citizen representative.

  • I want the children of the world to have a future.

  • I want to be able to watch baseball, basketball, and news channels on TV without having to pay $75 a month. I refuse to pay it.

  • I want the U.S. to close all our bases overseas. I want to Bring Our War $$ Home.

  • I want The Kinks to get back together - at least for one album. I would like for them to invite me to watch them make the record. Maybe let me sing backup and shake a tambourine too.

  • I want my son to not have to work so hard.

  • I want everyone to be happy. Can't we all just get along?

  • I want cars/trucks to vanish from the face of the Earth. I could live with motor scooters.

  • I want my feet to stop hurting after I walk a long distance. I love to walk.

  • I want the militarization of space to stop.

  • I want the aliens to come and tell us the whole story - who God is, how it all started, what happens when you die, and is it true that only the rich go to hell.

  • I want a new dog, preferably a Beagle, but for free and already house trained.

  • I want someone to come and take the things away from our house that collect dust. I am tired of stuff.

  • That should do it.....I don't want to be greedy.

Friday, December 23, 2011

ASKING THE CHURCH FOR A PLACE TO LAY THEIR HEADS



The Episcopal Church in New York City turned Occupy down when they requested the use of a vacant lot for their camp....retired Bishop gets dissed by his church as they reject his plea for them to open their hearts to Occupy.....coming at the same time of Christ's birthday where they will sing songs and reenact the birth in the lonely manger.

Seems the church misses the irony.

I think the song goes something like this - Away in the manger no crib for a bed...The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head.

The institutional church has largely become the pawn of the oligarchy. Jesus would shudder if he could see what is done (or not done) in his name these days.....

XMAS SHELL GAME - WATCH BOTH HANDS

This syndicated cartoon appeared in newspapers across the county
The Christmas spirit has lately been dampened by the bickering between the two corporate parties in Washington. They've been playing good cop - bad cop again. When they start doing that you'd better watch both of their slimy little hands.

The Repubs and Dems have been going at each other about a two month payroll tax cut. For those who don't pay attention "payroll tax" is the money that goes into the Social Security Trust Fund. The normal rate is 6.2% but it has been trimmed down to 4.2% and the Democrats have a goal of reducing it to 3.1%. Their reasoning is to give the funds back to the taxpayer as an economic stimulus.

A very popular idea - everybody likes tax cuts.........

The Repubs in the House said they would not support just a two month tax cut. They want to make it at least for a year or even permanent. Back and forth they go.....so guess what?

This morning we learn that the Repubs have agreed to the two month cut. To seal the deal, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) promised Thursday that he would appoint a conference committee to take up negotiations after New Year’s Day on ways to pay for a full-year tax cut.

In the end they all will agree on a long-term cut. What is the result? They reduce the amount of funds going into Social Security at the very same time that many private worker pension plans have been devastated due to the gambling going on at the stock market.

But don't worry both parties in Washington tell the people. The money that is reduced from Social Security will be replaced with funds from the general revenue to ensure that the retirement trust fund remains solvent. OK, that sounds nice....but I thought the general revenue funds were running in the negative....we are already borrowing from China to supplement the general revenue fund deficit.

It's a shell game.

"Social Security was not established to be a source of 'temporary' stimulus funds. The idea that its payroll tax rate should be moved up and down with economic events is highly dangerous to the program's financial future," Chuck Blahous, a public trustee for Social Security and Medicare, said in a statement.

Blahous and others argue that the more Social Security is seen as a program that must rely on general tax revenue, the less it will be viewed as a self-financed program that pays out earned benefits.

"Social Security will gradually be turned into something more akin to welfare, for which the funding is provided not solely by ... workers but also by a subsidy funded by those subject to income tax," Blahous said.

In other words Social Security would be turned into just another discretionary program. A fund that can be cut or even shut down depending on the whims of Congress and the White House.

In an even more cynical gesture the agreement will extend unemployment insurance for two more months - a move likely to have been made as a way to buy union support for the stealth attack on Social Security.

Watch out for gifts from Scrooge at Xmas time....you've got to keep a close eye on both of his money grubbing hands.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS








Xmas on Jeju Island

Thursday, December 22, 2011

MY THEME SONG


Apeman
The Kinks

I think I'm sophisticated
'Cos I'm living my life like a good homosapien
But all around me everybody's multiplying
Till they're walking round like flies man
So I'm no better than the animals sitting in their cages
in the zoo man
'Cos compared to the flowers and the birds and the trees
I am an ape man

I think I'm so educated and I'm so civilized
'Cos I'm a strict vegetarian
But with the over-population and inflation and starvation
And the crazy politicians
I don't feel safe in this world no more
I don't want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore and make like an ape man

I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man
I'm an ape man I'm a King Kong man I'm a voo doo man
I'm an ape man
'Cos compared to the sun that sits in the sky
compared to the clouds as they roll by
Compared to the bugs and the spiders and flies
I am an ape man

In man's evolution he has created the cities and
the motor traffic rumble, but give me half a chance
and I'd be taking off my clothes and living in the jungle
'Cos the only time that I feel at ease
Is swinging up and down in a coconut tree
Oh what a life of luxury to be like an ape man

I'm an ape, I'm an ape ape man, I'm an ape man
I'm a King Kong man, I'm a voo-doo man
I'm an ape man
I look out my window, but I can't see the sky
'Cos the air pollution is fogging up my eyes
I want to get out of this city alive
And make like an ape man

Come and love me, be my ape man girl
And we will be so happy in my ape man world
I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man, I'm an ape man
I'm a King Kong man, I'm a voo-doo man
I'm an ape man
I'll be your Tarzan, you'll be my Jane
I'll keep you warm and you'll keep me sane
and we'll sit in the trees and eat bananas all day
Just like an ape man
I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man, I'm an ape man
I'm a King Kong man, I'm a voo-doo man
I'm an ape man.
I don't feel safe in this world no more
I don't want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an ape man.

PEOPLE WIN ONE IN CHINA



The spirit of protest and real democracy is indeed spreading globally. It's unstoppable now and with each small thing we do we help spread this wave of hope and action.

CIGARS, DRONES, & ATTACK ON IRAN


  • Years ago while living in Florida I organized several trips to Cuba so activists and church people could taste the forbidden fruit. On one of the trips we visited a Cuban cigar factory and learned the remarkable story about how the workers would read to one another while they worked. Newspapers, novels, and the like were read all day long as the cigars were wrapped and when the Cuban revolution happened the workers in the cigar factory were some of the most active because they also were some of the most educated workers in the country. Last night I was speaking with a worker from Bath Iron Works and he told me how he regularly tacks articles (and sometimes my blog posts) on a bulletin board where a couple hundred workers daily stop to read the things he places there. Sometimes they are articles about the Jeju Island Navy base fight, reports on the Occupy movement and the growing economic divide in the country, stories about the growing suicides among active duty GI's, or the recent reports about the government throwing hundreds of dead soldiers body parts into garbage dumps. My friend said he is trying to help his fellow workers recover from watching Fox News.

  • While the U.S. war in Iraq is supposedly over new reports indicate that Secretary of War Leon Panetta plans to continue flying Predator surveillance drones over the war ravaged nation. The unmanned airplanes will operate out of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. Panetta also told Fox News that 40,000 U.S. troops will remain based throughout the Gulf region just in case they are needed. Panetta stated that the CIA drone flights over Iran will also continue. You might wonder if it is illegal and provocative for the U.S. to be sending military flights over Iranian air space? It's obvious that the U.S. and British military are doing economic sabotage missions inside Iran. This is how the U.S. got into the Vietnam war - first sending the CIA into Vietnam to blow up public transport and other infrastructure targets. Step by step it led to a full blown escalation and ultimately a very long and disastrous war.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

HYPING THE IRAN THREAT




We know that the US is already in a covert war with Iran. Key scientists involved in Iran's nuclear program have been assassinated and several Iranian government buildings have been blown up by US/Israeli operatives.

Now Iran, says a new Univision documentary, is being aided by Venezuela and Cuba. According to this right-wing documentary, the three countries are meeting in Mexico to plot terrorist attacks in the US. Is the Iranian threat real? Eva Golinger, lawyer and author, joins RT to analyze this question.

It's a replay of Ronald Reagan's hype that the communists from Nicaragua where going to attack the US by sweeping north into Texas back in the mid-to-late 1980's. He used this story line to justify the US support for the Contra war against Nicaragua that ultimately targeted and killed legions of innocent civilians.

The US corporate war machine has Iran surrounded and they are anxious to take out their leadership and grab their fossil fuel resources. So far they have been rolling the dice of war (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya) and getting away with it. Their thinking is - who is going to stop us?

These arrogant, dishonest, greedy, and sick bastards must be stopped before they turn this into a WW III. The people of the world need to reject following the US and NATO into another of these bloody blunders.

How many times can the oligarchy keep running this same story line out to justify war? The answer is as long as people keep buying it or at the very least remain silent.

CREATING COMMUNAL ECONOMY



It's a utopian fantasy - discover a ghost town and rebuild it in line with your ideals - but in Spain where there are nearly 3,000 abandoned villages (most dating back to the Middle Ages), some big dreamers have spent the past 3 decades doing just that.

SENDING BEST WISHES

Happy holidays to you.

This time of year means family to me - a time to remember all those in my extended family who do so much to make the world a better place.

It's not easy sledding out there but we keep pushing the rock up the hill.

A local minister friend asked me the other day why I don't just sit back and let it all crash and see what God has next in store for us.

I told him I am stubborn and that I can't turn my head away from it all.

I learned some years ago, thanks to Quaker friend Al Geiger who lives in Jacksonville, Florida, that we can't be attached to results. He helped me understand that we just have to be faithful to the path, do our level best, and from there things are ultimately beyond our control. Al is one of those I dearly miss from my years in Florida.

So for me that means acceptance of my limitations and just giving it all I can without losing my sense of awe and love for the great mystery of life.

The greatest gift I could get this holiday season is knowing that many of you all over the world are doing your best as well to bring sanity and justice to our world. I join hands with you as we keep pushing toward the new year. Know that as long as I am breathing I will be there with you on the ramparts even if I have to crawl.

As we come near to the end of the year I want to take a moment and remember all those we love who have passed on before us......they will always live in our hearts.

Thanks for stopping by the blog.......I send you my best wishes for love and peace.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

INTELLECTUALLY BANKRUPT



I've been reading various websites this morning and stopped by one Maine Democratic party blog that I regularly check on. A woman had posted an article wondering why their party was lacking in energy and not attracting younger folks.

She went on to describe better times and said, "Back in 2004, the Democratic Party was full of energy. We were at the end of George W. Bush’s first term. We had had enough. I joined MOB – Mothers Against Bush. I went to rallies. And let it be noted: this is WAY out of my comfort zone. I’m not usually one to be public about my beliefs. But I did what I could. I rallied around John Kerry."

I find this quote fascinating because she reveals several important things. First the name of the group "Mothers Against Bush" confirms what I've felt for a long time and that is many "party" people don't necessarily engage in protest movements because they are upset about a war or some particular issue. Quite often they join "rallies" because the events are really to smash one particular candidate (in this case Bush) or support another candidate (a Democrat).

Sometimes they do, for example, "join" peace groups but primarily because they believe it will help to build support for the slate of Democrats running in an upcoming election.

Then after an election is over these party people fold up their "activist" banners and go home to wait for the next election cycle. In their minds they see themselves as part of the larger "movements" but in truth their energy, money, and hearts are closely reserved for their party.

In the comments following this woman's piece a good number of folks wrote in trying to help offer suggestions on how to revive the flagging Democrats in Maine. One man wrote in part, "We also need to step back and realize how much President Obama and the Congressional Democrats have accomplished — passing national health care, ending both the wars, saving the economy from the forces of evil in the financial sector."

Reading this made me angry. This is what I'd call intellectual bankruptcy. Claiming that Obama had ended both wars and saved the economy from Wall Street! Outrageous. I immediately wrote a response that said:

Ending both wars? What planet are you living on? We are still mired in Afghanistan at the cost of $12 billion per month. You want to know why progressives are abandoning the Dems like rats off a sinking ship? It’s remarks like this that Obama has ended both wars. Dems are blinded by party loyalty and can’t be critical of their own corporate dominated war party. Very sad.

I see this with loyal Democrats all the time. They find it virtually impossible to face the reality of what their president and party stand for and are doing. They turn their heads when they see such actions like expanding the war from Afghanistan into Pakistan and miraculously convince themselves that Obama has in fact ended "both wars". Or they blame the non-closure of Guantanamo detention center on the Republicans.....on it goes.

One email I got today was in a series of emails discussing the Obama fiasco. A woman wrote, "Obama is now so discredited in the eyes of many fine progressives who believed he would make a dent (including me, duh!).... For sure, let's build an alternative party and take the fine progressives to the left of the democratic party with us: they are looking for alternatives!!!"

I'd sure hate to be a Democrat today trying to "rebuild" the energy for that party. The public ain't buying it and neither are the real honest hard working grassroots activists who are the bedrock of most movements - particularly the Occupy movement. They get it and won't be fooled again.

Sadly I think Obama will be reelected but it won't be because most voters buy his worn-out line anymore. Polls are showing that most of the public has little confidence in either party and are not happy with the declared candidates in either of the two corporate controlled political parties.

Obama is likely to win because many will hold their nose and vote for the "lesser" of the devils. Holding your nose though does not create energy and passion for a party. It just helps to hold off the smell from the rotting corpse.

We must continue to build the alternative vision, the non-corporate vision of what a world could look like without endless war, greed, materialism, and environmental destruction. Only when we do that can we reach the day where real democracy can flourish.

STILL GOING UNTIL THE COWS COME HOME



We have no other option than to keep pressing on until the oligarchy gives way to true liberty, justice, peace, and economic equality in the U.S. and around the world.

We can't be discouraged (for long) nor can we afford to throw in the towel. It's the future generations and the many plant and animal species on our Mother Earth we are fighting for - all our relations.

Let this coming new year be a time of recommitment for each of us. Let us remember that the #1 job of a human being is to ensure that those coming after us have a chance for survival on this beautiful spinning orb.

Let's also remember we are not alone. This noble struggle for planetary dignity is happening in every country and on every continent. Connected we are a mighty force. Let's keep it rolling. Each of us can do even one small thing each day to help this cause. Reach out and feel connected to this historic energy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

TECHNOLOGY AND OTHER COLD, HARD MATTERS


  • It's cold here, last night dipping down to about 6 degrees. Just a touch of snow on the ground. Weather reports predict 46 degrees by Thursday as we continue the up and down cycle that is not normal for this time of year in Maine. It's the kind of weather fluctuations that make people sick as our bodies can't adjust to the back and forth.

  • I will attend my City Council meeting tonight as they will be once again debating the merits of the new so-called 'Smart Meter' wireless devices amid concerns about their impact on residents' health, privacy and power bills. So far my city council has declared a 6-month moratorium on their installation by a slim 5-4 margin. There will be an effort to overturn that decision this evening. I am still learning about the issue but tend to feel like we need to slow down the runaway train and stop the corporate arm-twisting that is pushing these things.

  • The Russian Phobos-Grunt space probe, launched on November 9 to go to a moon of Mars, had its rocket system fail to fire it into deep space from low Earth orbit. Phobos-Grunt is expected to fall to Earth between January 6-19. It's been confirmed that “one of the craft’s instruments” contains 22 pounds of Cobalt-57. The Russian space agency expects that “between 20 and 30 fragments of the probe with a total weight of up to…440 pounds will survive the fiery plunge and shower the Earth’s surface.” Journalist Karl Grossman (one of the founders of the Global Network) reports that while Cobalt-57 isn’t plutonium, considered the most deadly radioactive substance, it still can be harmful. He quotes Argonne National Laboratory’s Human Health Fact Sheet that Cobalt-57 has a half-life of 270 days, “long enough to warrant concern.” (The hazardous lifetime of a radioactive material is 10 to 20 times its half-life.) The document notes that Cobalt-57 can cause cancer. It “can be taken into the body by eating food, drinking water, or breathing.” It's no wonder we all are so wary of technology and the constant claims that everything is safe. Don't worry - be happy! Ugh......

  • I've begun working on the next Global Network newsletter. It will be a special 20th anniversary edition as the organization was founded in 1992. One of our board members, Holly Gwinn Graham from Olympia, Washington, recently sent me photos from many past GN events that I had never seen. It will be fun to weave them into the newsletter.

  • I watched CBS-TV news show 60 Minutes last night and they did a segment on the large numbers of foreclosed and vacant homes in Cleveland, Ohio. The banks don't want them, and don't want to pay for their upkeep since they are not selling, so the city has been left holding the bag. They are bulldozing the homes left and right as the numbers of homeless people multiply like a bunch of rabbits. Wouldn't it make more sense to change the mortgages and let people pay something so they can stay in their homes? This unforgiving capitalism has got to go. It's as outdated and cruel as feudalism.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

JESUS IS A FOOTBALL FAN?



What about soccer?

SUNDAY SONG



In the place where our old home was destroyed,
We bury the charred bones of our relatives,
Now the white flowers are blooming there.
Oh, we must never allow, we must absolutely forbid another Atom Bomb to fall.

Deadly rain gathers poison from the sky,
And the fish gather death from the depths of the sea,
Fishing boats are idle, their owners are blind,
Deadly harvest, of two Atom boms,
And landsmen and seamen you must watch and take care,
That the third Atom bomb never falls.



They got sisters and brothers
Fighting 'gainst one another
They got dreams and schemes and build war machines
And try to out-do each other
We got children that are starving
But that don't bother them
They're much to busy getin' rich
To worry about our little children

Save me Jesus!
Save me Jesus!
Save me Jesus!
Jesus save me
From this god forsaken place

They got satellites and space ships
Flying 'cross the universe
They killed before
And they'll kill again
Just so they can say they're first
They build monuments and churches
And things I aint seen yet
And they've signed a law with their autographs
In case you might forget

Save me Jesus!
Save me Jesus!
Save me Jesus!
Jesus save me
From this god forsaken place