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

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Army vet goes peacenik & having an impact

Brittany DeBarros is waging the kind of vehement public protest via Twitter against the Defense Department and US government that's commonplace in the Trump-era — except that DeBarros is a captain in the US Army Reserve assigned to the Army's Psychological Operations Command.

See the full story here

Friday, November 09, 2018

Understanding Russian Orthodoxy



Very articulate view on the resurgence of the Orthodox faith in Russia by American Sharon Tennison from the Center for Citizen Initiatives.

She's been leading delegations to Russia since the days of the former Soviet Union.

Video made by Regis Tremblay

Thursday, November 08, 2018

U.S. wants 'No stinkin treaties!'



The US has announced its withdrawal from the historic nuclear arms treaty with Russia. How serious of a setback is this for the two countries’ relations – and global security?

RT talks with Stephen Cohen, contributing editor of The Nation magazine, professor emeritus at Princeton University, and author of the book ‘War with Russia?’

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

What to do the day after America's elections?



 The Washington Post reports this morning:

The deep divisions that have defined American politics in the era of President Trump played out across the country in Tuesday’s midterm elections, as Democrats scored victories in key races in Republican-held suburban House districts but ran into a wall of opposition in red-state Senate contests.

A change in the balance of power in the House would represent a pulling back from the president by key parts of the electorate, particularly by female voters. That alone could have a significant effect on the second half of Trump’s first term, particularly in Washington.

But the overall voting patterns in House, Senate and gubernatorial contests signaled that the differences and divisions that have defined the country during Trump’s presidency remain and seemingly are growing stronger. That sets the stage for a contentious and competitive presidential election two years from now, with the stakes now higher than ever.

The House takeover represents a significant change in the status quo in Washington. But it might end up doing little to affect the overall shape of an America deeply divided over the leadership of the president.

Continuing their long-standing trend of approving requests to borrow money for big needed projects, Maine voters on Tuesday approved all four bond questions on the state ballot. Mainers supported borrowing $200 million for roads, bridges, college campuses and sewer and water system upgrades.  The interest on the bank loans will be saddled on the future generations.

This growing trend of borrowing money by impoverished states across the nation has become necessary because the federal government has continually reduced the amount of funds it offers states and local communities for infrastructure repair, education funding and social programs.

Instead the national treasury increasingly is poured into the Pentagon budget - now at least 54% of every discretionary tax dollar goes into the military coffers.  That leaves little else for states and local communities who have to tie their future to loans from the Wall Street banksters who make huge profits on the interest.

A friend of mine, Pat Elder from Maryland, ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate against Rep. Steny Hoyer - the Democratic Party Whip in the House of Representatives. Pat got 1.3% of the vote while Hoyer (Nancy Pelosi's right-hand man and a big time warmonger) got 70% of the vote.

Pat writes:
I had the opportunity on a few  occasions to publicly advocate for shutting down NATO. Hell, I don’t think most voters know what it is. As I’ve gone door to door in the most impoverished areas 80 miles south of Washington I’ve discovered many are concerned about Russians and Chinese and Koreans attacking and they’re worried about mobs of foreigners rushing the borders and taking their jobs away. Almost all are enthusiastic about increasing military spending. They don’t see the connections. I’ve been laughed at and scorned.  There’s a lot of work to be done educating the American public on matters of war and peace.  



Historian and progressive activist Howard Zinn wrote about elections in 1979.  He said in part:

The multiple choice test is here again. Sure, there are better candidates and worse. But we will go a long way from spectator democ­racy to real democracy when we understand that the future of this coun­try doesn’t depend, mainly, on who is our next president. It depends on whether the American citizen, fed up with high taxes, high prices, unem­ployment, waste, war and corruption, will organize all over the country a clamor for change even greater than the labor uprisings of the ’30s or the Black rebellion of the ’60s and shake this country out of old paths into new ones.

I watched the elections returns on TV long enough to see where the state and national trends were going before heading to bed.  I was struck once again by the long lines of people waiting to vote and the numerous stories about Republican efforts to obstruct voting - particularly in the south to keep blacks and Hispanics from impacting key races in places like Texas, Georgia and Florida.  It appears the obstructionist strategy worked quite well once again.

It's really telling as Washington preaches about freedom and democracy that we witness how millions of people are kept from exercising their constitutional right to vote.  Maybe we need some country to invade the US to liberate the American voters.  How about throwing some economic sanctions on the US until we stop denying people their fundamental right to vote?  You think BBC will cover this story? 

The election analysts say that Democrats were able to recapture the House of Representatives because people (mostly women) in the suburbs across the nation and independents voted for them as a rejection of Trump's divisive politics.  The Republicans continue to own the rural American voter.

Many of the new Democrats who will join the House of Representatives are former US military and CIA personnel.  The Democrats made sure that they selected these types as candidates in order to 'compete' more effectively with the conservatives.  But in the end I can't help but wonder if the newly elected Democrats will eagerly vote to continue our many wars around the world and our steroidal military budget.

How can the Democrats say they want to ensure health care for all, education funding, fix our crumbling infrastructure and at the same time keep feeding the war machine?

I left half of my ballot blank yesterday when I walked to the polls in the rain and did my citizen duty.  Our two local Maine state legislative candidates from Bath (House and Senate) were the women who sponsored the General Dynamics (Bath Iron Works) $60 million tax cut bill that we campaigned against last winter.  While we were able to trim $15 million from it before it passed the state legislature I can't forget that it was these two 'liberal Democrats' that pushed that bad bill that stole from children who go to bed hungry in our state.  I heard a radio ad days ago by one of the women where she took credit for 'helping to fund' the construction of expensive and provocative destroyers at our local shipyard.

There is no doubt in my mind that the real winners in this election cycle are the corporate oligarchies that control the US.  From bond issues that keep Wall Street banks wealthy, to candidates from both parties who pledge support for the military industrial complex, to voters who swallow the fear-mongering from 'our leaders' - the corporate masters have this system under lock and key.

As Howard Zinn would say - what is important now is what the citizens do the day after elections are over.  Today is when the real work of democracy and citizenship begins.  Let it happen now because time is slipping away.

Bruce  

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

World not accepting U.S. arrogance



Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s Declaration on Trump Sanctions

Israel's propaganda works



Over the past few years, Israel's ongoing military occupation of Palestinian territory and repeated invasions of the Gaza strip have triggered a fierce backlash against Israeli policies virtually everywhere in the world -- except the United States. The Occupation of the American Mind takes an eye-opening look at this critical exception, zeroing in on pro-Israel public relations efforts within the U.S.

Narrated by Roger Waters and featuring leading observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. media culture, the film explores how the Israeli government, the U.S. government, and the pro-Israel lobby have joined forces, often with very different motives, to shape American media coverage of the conflict in Israel's favor. From the U.S.-based public relations campaigns that emerged in the 1980s to today, the film provides a sweeping analysis of Israel's decades-long battle for the hearts, minds, and tax dollars of the American people in the face of widening international condemnation of its increasingly right-wing policies.

Featuring Roger Waters, Amira Hass, M.J. Rosenberg, Stephen M. Walt, Noam Chomsky, Rula Jebreal, Henry Siegman, Rashid Khalidi, Rami Khouri, Yousef Munayyer, Norman Finkelstein, Max Blumenthal, Phyllis Bennis, Norman Solomon, Mark Crispin Miller, Peter Hart, and Sut Jhally.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Creating a Cyber false flag?



The New York Times reported that the US Cyber Command has launched the first operation against Russia.

According to the newspaper, it will take the form of communications, by which the Americans plan to convince ”the Russian hackers” to stop that notorious “interference in the US internal affairs”.

Be sure to hit the 'cc' in lower right-hand corner of the video if subtitles don't appear.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Moving on from the AMH


After 12 years of living in this wonderful house in Bath, Maine (built in the 1790's) we are putting the house up for sale and moving on.

We bought it in a three-way partnership of Karen Wainberg, Mary Beth Sullivan and myself.  Over the years we've been a house of transition (we called it an 'Intentional Community') where friends whose lives were in flux could live with us at a cheap rent until things settled down for them and they could afford to move on.

One mom and her two young girls lived with us for about six years - they are like family now.

But its a big house (15 rooms and three bathrooms) with a big gardening space in the backyard and it is just too much for us to keep up with as we age and Karen's life forever changed two years ago when she had a stroke.

So it's time to make the change.  Karen and her daughter have already found an apartment in nearby Brunswick and will move before this month is over.

MB and I will stay in the house until it sells and in the meantime we'll be looking around for a place to live in the Bath and Brunswick area.


Over the years we've held many community pot luck suppers and had lots of meetings here.  We called it the Addams-Melman House (AMH) - named after Jane Addams the founder of social work in the US and Columbia University professor Seymour Melman who was the father of the 'economic conversion' movement that works to convert the war machine to peaceful and sustainable production.

I'll miss gathering the branches that fall from our many trees for kindling for our two wood stoves in the winter.  I'll miss stacking and bringing in the wood, starting the fire in the morning, and losing myself watching the flames dart inside the fire box.  I'll even miss shoveling the snow (though I will likely still get a chance to do that no matter where we move).


Thanks to all our dear friends who came to the AMH during these years.

Some folks in Bath we've been told called it the 'Peace House'.  Many people in the community knew what we were doing and I must say our neighbors were always really good to us.  We'll miss them as well.

Bruce

The inside story on Exxon's big lies.....


Sunday song