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, November 10, 2012

LOOKING DEEPER AT CIA





With the growing questions surrounding the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus it is wise to take a moment and look back at some of past debate surrounding the out-of-control spy agency.

The videos above are from an investigative report by CBS News and Mike Wallace in 1967 exposing how the CIA used NGO’s as cover throughout the 50's and 60's.  The investigation took place 45 years ago but these practices continue to this today.

One such CIA front group was the Business International Corporation where Obama worked for one year after college - what is often called his "lost" year which he speaks little about.

Can there be any doubt that since the assassination of JFK the CIA runs things in America and beyond.  Soon after JFK was taken out by the CIA and the mafia former President Harry Truman had an Op-ed published in the Washington Post on December 22, 1963, one month to the day after JFK was killed. Truman wrote:

“I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency - CIA…..

“For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.

“We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.”

The Truman piece was ignored by the political class.  Ever since the CIA has been on the loose.

See more here

Friday, November 09, 2012

OCCUPY CONEY ISLAND

New York magazine reports: 
Anna Lederman, a Russian-speaking nurse working with Occupy Sandy, walked up fourteen flights of a pitch-black stairwell in the Surfside Gardens housing complex in Coney Island on Monday and knocked on an apartment door, the only light coming from her small headlamp. An elderly woman wearing a babushka, walking slowly with a cane, told Lederman in Russian that she was all alone. She had her medications, but could not get down the stairs, and needed food. “This,” she said, “is like the second blockade of Leningrad.”

Many New Yorkers affected by the storm have complained about the uneven response from the city, FEMA, and Red Cross. Veterans of the Occupy movement, with experience in New Orleans at the Common Ground Clinic after Katrina, and in Zuccotti Park last year, have stepped in to fill the gap. 
“That’s one of the reasons we mobilized here first,” said Becca Piser, a street medic trained as a first-responder. “No one’s telling us where to go or not to go.” The Occupy crew in Coney Island also included some of Lederman's fellow nurses from Columbia University, who had been working in shelters and on the Occupy mission to Far Rockaway; a Russian and Spanish translator, who had answered the call on Facebook; Shawn Westfahl, one of the first medics at the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park; and Roger Benham and Jeff “Fidget” (his Occupy name), who worked together doing disaster relief in New Orleans and in Haiti after the earthquake.
 See the full article here

ARE THEY GOING TO CUT SOCIAL SECURITY?



On November 8th, 2012, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) visited The Ed Show on MSNBC to talk about the fiscal cliff, and how Social Security has nothing to do with it.

Shouldn't we 'meekly' suggest they cut the trillion dollar Pentagon budget instead?

SMILEY & WEST ON OBAMA'S REELECTION



Part One 

As the most expensive presidential election in U.S. history comes to an end, broadcaster Tavis Smiley and professor, activist Dr. Cornel West join Democracy Now to discuss President Obama’s re-election and their hopes for a national political agenda in and outside of the White House during Obama’s second term.

At a time when one in six Americans is poor, the price tag for combined spending by federal candidates — along with their parties and outside groups like super PACs — totaled more than $6 billion.

Part two
 


GREEN PARTY NUMBERS

 
I heard many activists across the country say they wanted to vote for Jill Stein from the Green Party but they were afraid Romney would win.  The media hyped the "close" horse race so many in the end caved in and voted with their fears which in most states turned out to be unwarranted.
Nationally, Jill Stein and the Greens earned 396,684 votes, or 0.3% of the total. This is much better than 2008, when the Green ticket won 161,603 votes nationwide.

Here are percentages by state, for places where Stein appeared on the ballot:

STATE PERCENTAGES

Maine 1.3
Alaska 1.0
Oregon 1.0
Arkansas 0.9
Dist of Columbia 0.8
Hawaii 0.7
Idaho 0.7
West Virginia 0.7
California 0.6
Illinois 0.6
Maryland 0.6
Massachusetts 0.6
New York 0.6
Rhode Island 0.5
Delaware 0.5
Michigan 0.5
Washington 0.5
Kentucky 0.4
Louisiana 0.4
Minnesota 0.4
North Dakota 0.4
Pennsylvania 0.4
Utah 0.4
Arizona 0.3
Colorado 0.3
New Jersey 0.3
New Mexico 0.3
Ohio 0.3
South Carolina 0.3
Tennessee 0.3
Texas 0.3
Alabama 0.2
Iowa 0.2
Virginia 0.2
Wisconsin 0.2
Florida 0.1
Mississippi 0.1

[These numbers may change slightly, as states finish reporting absentee, overseas, and provisional ballots; but final numbers will be close.]

Thursday, November 08, 2012

CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION



Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Desmond Tutu and others — along with 350.org –  are coming (in person and via satellite connection) to the State Theatre in Portland, Maine on November 13 as part of their tour across America to help build the movement we need to face the crisis of climate change.

See more here

ONE OF THE GOOD ONES

Here is one of the few Dems that seems to be willing to fight for the poor and working class.  Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) was defeated in the Tea Party rout in 2010.  But he ran again and won decisively this time.  He is from Orlando, Florida where I lived and did my activism for 20 years.  I can tell you that when I lived there one could only dream about electing such a candidate.  When I was in Orlando our congressman was Bill McCollum - a fascist who was intimately involved in the Iran Contra scandal running drugs and weapons in and out of Latin America during the Reagan-Bush years.

As I mentioned yesterday Orlando has changed politically largely because poor people have moved there to work in the low wage tourism industry around Disney World.  They've obviously become a major political force.  I can just imagine the plantation power structure in Central Florida is pulling the hair out of their heads about Grayson winning back his House seat.

I think Grayson won his seat back because he tells the truth and takes on the corporate power structure.  Here is hoping that he can help force Obama to stand with the people as well.

Read more on this whole topic in an excellent new article by Glenn Greenwald here

GMO LABELING SWAMPED IN CALIFORNIA



Polls routinely show that 90 percent of all Americans support genetically modified food labeling. So how is it that California’s Proposition 37, which would have required GMO food labeling, was defeated by a margin of 53%-47% on election day?

The answer is the massive $48 million advertising campaign by Monsanto and other multi-national food corporations. With 90% voter support and no legitimate reason to vote against the ballot initiative it was deceptive and repetitive advertising carried the day.

China, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, countries in the European Union, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, India and Chile are just a few of the nations that already require GMO foods to be labeled.

While on the campaign trail in 2007, President Obama promised to label GMO foods if elected.  It didn't happen and instead Obama appointed former Monsanto vice president Michael Taylor as U.S. food safety czar.  He is the same man that was in charge of FDA policy when GMO’s were allowed into the U.S. food supply without undergoing a single test to determine their safety.

Be sure to watch what you buy and boycott the hell out of those mega-corps that defeated our right to know what we are eating.  This one ain't over by a long-shot.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

FINALLY OVER



  • The elections are finally over in the U.S. and the American people are relieved.  The big corporate money was overwhelming this year and the public was fed up with the TV ads weeks ago.  Yesterday here in Bath a couple of my housemates worked at the polls collecting signatures on a petition calling on the city to pass a resolution demanding that the Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited corporate spending in elections be over turned.  They reported that gathering the signatures was quite easy as voters were eager to make a statement against the big $$$$.
  • One thing to watch out for is the calls this morning on national TV for Obama to "move quickly" which to me means to close deals with the Republicans to force major social spending cuts while the public revels in their state of euphoria - cut their throats while they are still cheering. 
  • One of the more interesting numbers is that Obama got nine million less votes this time than he did in 2008.  Romney got 2.1 million less votes than John McCain did in 2008.  So that means that about 12 million more citizens sat this election out. 
  • Two House races I closely followed were in Florida where Allan Grayson (one of the more progressive members in the Congress) won back his House seat in my old stomping grounds of Orlando with 62.5% of the vote.  In conservative reactionary Orlando!  This I think is one very good example of the growing power of the Hispanic vote as the people who have moved to that city to work in the service industry around Disney have changed the politics there.  The other race was in south Florida where the right-wing tea party black man Allen West, who got elected to the House in 2010, was defeated by 1% of the vote.  West, a retired military man who wanted war everywhere, had created a list of 100 "liberal" Dems in the House who he accused of being Communists.  If it were only true.
  • Thought I'd share some of my favorite comments on Facebook this morning.  Here they are:
    - Although I am pleased that Mittens didn't win, I think The Onion said it best with this headline, "Millions Without Power After The Election ."
    -   Rumor has it that President Obama favors a “grand bargain” that trades Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid cuts for tax hikes on top income earners.  Starting tomorrow, the AFL-CIO is holding press conferences and actions across the country. Other networks will be joining them and demanding:
    -no cuts to entitlement programs or other vital social programs
    -create jobs
    -tax the top 2%
    Something’s missing here. The country’s biggest economic justice organizations didn’t include “cut Pentagon spending” in their sequestration solution.
    -  Don't feel bad Republicans.  With 175+ children murdered by drone strikes under Obama and Obama's NDAA signature the police state and war will continue.
    - Voters largely blamed the recession on President George W. Bush, which ultimately helped President Barack Obama in his bid for a second term.
    -  via @CNN: Apparently 18-29 year olds out-voted over-65 year olds today.
    With another MIC puppet at the helm the war dollars will keep rolling in.
    - I hope that now, with no more elections, that Obama becomes the president that he pretended to be for the last 4 years.
    - What will be Obama's immediate agenda? We should expect him to move quickly on austerity -- cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and to states for their education and social programs, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and finishing the Keystone XL pipeline.  On foreign policy, U.S. militarism will continue -- the sanctions with threats of all-out war on Iran will continue, encircling China to threaten them (with what, war?), the Syrian civil war will escalate with U.S. support. This is what is coming and coming quickly. Will those who urged support of Obama protest him -- aggressively?  Will the unions protest, the mainstream environmentalists? No honeymoon for Obama.  
    - The saddest part of the whole affair in my opinion, was the unconscionable amounts of money spent in both campaigns and how many children that money would have fed, clothed, schooled, and provided much needed health-care for. It truly shows how skewered our priorities as humans in this country have become.
    - Turns out: rape apologists, anti-choice zealots, and generally regressive misogynists ARE LOSERS, not just in general but very realistically. They lose elections. Which is fitting, since they've lost their minds years ago.
    - I want to congratulate last nights winners Goldman Sachs, Wall Street, Monsanto, big pharma, and the military industrial complex.
    - I love the smell of Brainwashing in the morning!
    - A succinct appraisal of the GOP. Its death is now certain, but complete demise of the rump that's left will be slow and ugly.
    - Let's get off the trickle-down nonsense, let's end the Bush tax breaks, let's recognize that what the Conservatives are calling for is what was going on in Europe over the last ten years, and it hasn't worked-- if anything, it's only pushed the EU closer to the fiscal cliff....It was wrong for Europe and it's a tactic that's wrong for America....Instead, we need to think about investment and moving forward whatever it takes....
    - And people get upset with Venezuela because there are no term limits...Ronald Reagan just got (s)elected for his 9th term yesterday.
    - I now have a new appreciation for John Denver's Rocky Mountain 'High'.....[Colorado voted to legalize marijuana]
    -  There's a war in my office - the right-wingers are angry! That's all Arizona needs - another civil war.
    -  Jill Stein came through this election cycle with integrity intact - more than I can say about the candidates running the duopoly.
    -  Obama² "Four More Years!" .....Didn't drink nor party like I did in '08...I prayed and hope we can move FORWARD....End the Wars...get MORE people back to work...fix the deficit WITHOUT TOUCHING Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid 
    To believe that this corporate-financier oligarchy would subject their agenda and fate to the whims of the voting masses is naive at best. They have painstakingly ensured that no matter who gets into office, in whatever country, the guns, the oil, the wealth and the power keep flowing perpetually into their own hands.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

BACK IN GEAR


  • I got back home last night and was greeted with a good pasta meal from my Addams-Melman House mates.  It is good to be back but my time away was priceless.  My visit with my sister in Iowa for the last couple days of my trip was equally enjoyable.  She is always fun to be around and we had some nice walks together.  MB and I took our dog for a walk today and we played "hide and seek" with Homer the coon hound.  MB hid and Homer went and found her in the woods.  It's great to be home again.
  • Today I worked in the yard picking up the many tree branches that fell during the rain and wind that we got here in Maine from Hurricane Sandy.  (Mostly Maine escaped major damage though I heard that about 90,000 Mainers lost their power for some time.)  I bust them up and store the fallen tree limbs in our shed and we use them to start the fires in our two wood stoves.  It's quite cold here now so we've got the fires burning.  We keep the thermostat turned down really low, about 54 degrees, and rarely turn it up.  So we rely on the heat from the wood stoves to rise upstairs to my office and our bedrooms.  
  • We will sit by the fire tonight and watch the election returns.  The professional wrestling match between Obama and Romney has proved to be another squeaker like most other elections in recent years.  The Republicans are working hard across the nation (particularly in Ohio, Florida, and Virginia) to make sure that black community voters are hassled and denied the chance to vote.  Since 2000 this has increasingly been a problem and one wonders why the Democrats rarely ever raise hell about it.  One would think they'd want to defend the rights of their voters to the bitter end.  Gore never fought for the disenfranchised voters in 2000 nor did John Kerry when he ran against Bush in 2004.  Why not?
  • Either way, whether it is Obama or Romney, we are still in a hell of a mess as military spending will stay in the trillion dollar range and cutbacks in social programs will continue.  I voted for the Green Party's candidate Jill Stein and it felt good to vote for someone that I believed in.  I don't do the "lesser of two evils" trip anymore.
  • During the whole time I was away there was a tremendous debate on the Veterans For Peace and United for Peace & Justice list serves about voting for Obama or a third party candidate.  It's the first time during my organizing career that this kind of serious analytical discussion has occurred so openly and I take it as a sign that the long-time progressive community subservience to the Democrats is now fading like the setting sun.
  • My son Julian called today and will come home for two weeks around Thanksgiving which is a great treat for us.  In January he will head to Taiwan where he will be teaching debate along with one of his old college buddies.  He's been saying for some time that he'd like to live outside of the U.S. so it looks like it will happen now at least for awhile anyway.
  • My next big project is to get started on our Global Network newsletter Space Alert.  It's always a big undertaking but once I get rolling it turns out to be quite a joy to produce.  If you are not on our mailing list send me an email with your address information and we'll send it to you once it is done.  Write me at globalnet@mindspring.com

Monday, November 05, 2012

CONNECT DOTS AND SURVIVE



After 30 days of marching throughout South Korea the combined team of Gangjeong village resistance against the Navy base and many other progressive movements have arrived in Seoul for their final events.

The movement there has brought together many threads of the opposition to the right-wing policies of President Lee's corporate dominated government.


We in the U.S. have much to learn from this kind of organizing.  Instead of going it alone, using the "business model" of organizing, we should be bringing labor, environmental groups, peace activists, women's groups, and more into a grand coalition to stand against the corporate policies of the U.S. government.

Instead we are divided over whether or not the Democratic Party truly represents the interests of the poor and the middle class.  Who can believe that we will ever get anywhere in our movement building as long as we remain in captivity by a political party that is bought and sold by corporate $$$?

We should be organizing progressive summits in every state of the union and begin to have strategic discussions immediately.  No matter who wins the election(s) we've got to get this cooperative organizing process in place ASAP.  If we wait around for another four years it will likely be too late.  

Connect the dots and survive.

PICK YOUR POISON GAME SHOW



First Strike/Star Whores perform skit on "The Price of Freedom" game show at NWTRCC conference, Slocum Commons, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO, Nov. 3, 2012.

If you don't want your $$ spent on more weapons then stand up and tell them you are here!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

SUNDAY SONG





WHO CAN YOU COUNT ON?



More on the Occupy Sandy efforts in New York City.

People in the community are thankful for the organized assistance, complaining that FEMA, the police and the Red Cross are not adequately addressing the people’s needs, if at all. Bob Hardt of the NY1 Blog writes, “There continues to be mounting frustration from other residents here. The Red Cross is quickly becoming the villain because it has been invisible. It’s a bad sign for the world that Occupy Wall Street and a Sikh group from Queens are doing a better job at distributing hot food than the largest international relief group in the world.”

See the full article here

And the Occupy Sandy web site here