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: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

CLIFF MEETS THE WALL: BAD NEWS FOR THE PEOPLE


  • The histrionics about the fiscal cliff have given way to a temporary reprieve from the executioner.  The very rich will pay a bit more in taxes. Obama's deal will allow the middle rich to escape some of the hit so they can continue to accumulate capital and provide a political cushion for the increasingly unpopular corporate oligarchy.  
  • The questions about austerity cuts in the federal budget were not addressed in the fiscal cliff avoidance "mini-deal".  Conservatives are screaming in rage as they prepare for the coming two month tug-of-war that will determine the levels in social program cuts.  Liberals in Congress largely cower as they prepare to witness the setting aside of any real attempts to cut Pentagon spending while Social Security and Medicare recipients quietly line up to take their bad medicine.  They've been well prepared by the Congress and the corporate media.  The working stiffs had it beaten into their heads that "shared sacrifice" is what is now needed to save the nation.  Translation:  Shared sacrifice means that people will lose both their hands and legs.  The rich will then get a tax credit for generously donating to the local charity that gives away artificial limbs.
  • Even the aid package to help victims of Hurricane Sandy has been tabled in the Congress.  To me it's a sign that local "catastrophes" will not get much help from Washington in the future as welfare for the bankers and weapons industry will eat up most of the federal budget.  
  • This whole fiscal cliff story ain't gonna be over this session in Congress.  The next four years of the Obama administration will be a continual effort to get the working class base of the Democratic Party to accept the destruction of social progress.
  • We went to see Les Miserables, adapted from Victor Hugo’s classic 1862 novel about the tumultuous era of nineteenth century France, yesterday at the movie theater.  It took about two minutes to hook me in and I walked out at the end nearly weeping.  The most striking elements of the film are the ways the rich and powerful ground the people down to dust.  It's a movie about what feudalism feels like.  The courage of the character Jean Valjean was more than inspiring - a truly honest man who constantly struggled to be a real human being.  I highly recommend it.
  • Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) was one of eight who voted against the fiscal cliff deal when it came to the Senate floor.  (I worked on his run for president in 1992 but he dropped out of the race the day before the Florida primary....where I was living at the time.)  Sen. Harkin warned that these budgets were creating "a constant drift....toward less economic justice."  To say the least.
  • Organizing around this important link between austerity cuts and endless war should remain strong in coming months.  Veterans For Peace will soon consider a proposal to put one national full-time staff person on this case to help chapters work with/build local coalitions around these deadly connections. (I volunteered to serve on a committee to work on this.)  Some communities already have a great start on this which underscores the increasing popularity and necessity of this particular way to expand movement building.  A national network has also been created called Jobs Not Wars to help promote this work.  
  • Obama, in his "victory" speech on the mini-deal, reminded everyone that he "was open to compromise". It's a magician's message to the Republicans to keep the pressure on him to destroy social spending and he will ultimately respond - just as Bill Clinton brought back George H. W. Bush to share the stage with him to push NAFTA down the nation's already clogged throat back in the day.

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