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.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

A rocket blast from the past: Understanding Space Force



Today the Military Industrial Complex is marching towards world dominance through Space technology on behalf of global corporate interest.

To understand how and why the space program will be used to fight all future wars on earth from space, it's important to understand how the public has been misled about the origins and true purpose of the Space Program.

History lesson: 'This is nuts and I want out'



This is a clip of poet and educator Bill Ehrhart - a very articulate Vietnam veteran who joined the military with patriotism in his heart.

Ehrhart served with 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, from early February 1967 to late February 1968 in Vietnam..

Ehrhart became a well-known veteran poet.

Ehrhart began writing when he was 15 years old, and has been writing more or less continuously ever since. His first published work, a poem about Swarthmore College, appeared seven years later in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the following year eight of his poems were included in Winning Hearts and Minds: War Poems by Vietnam Veterans. Exclusively a poet until he was almost 30, he has since written and published a wide variety of nonfiction prose from 400-word newspaper commentaries to 40-page scholarly essays to 400-page personal narratives.

The influence of Ehrhart's encounter with the Vietnam War can readily be seen in his writing, but though he is known primarily as a "Vietnam War poet," in fact his subject matter ranges widely.

His wife and daughter are major sources of inspiration for his poetry. His poems also reflect his respect for nature, his love of friends, his active engagement with the world around him, and his consternation at the human condition.

You can find more at his website www.wdehrhart.com

Friday, December 20, 2019

The Radical Underuse of Impeachment



By David Swanson

Al Capone wasn’t prosecuted for tax evasion because it’s cool or smart or strategic to prosecute murderers for lesser crimes, but because proving murder in court was going to be more difficult.

That’s not analogous to a Congressional impeachment, but the opposite of how Congress operates. Congress sits on indisputable evidence of the greatest crimes while impeaching presidents for lesser offenses that are harder to prove.

Andrew Johnson publicly did everything he could to limit “freedom” for African Americans to a meaningless word. He was impeached for firing the Secretary of War.

Richard Nixon had indisputably bombed Cambodia, a crime that one failed article of impeachment charged him with, not to mention Vietnam and Laos. In fact, he had sabotaged the peace process and kept a war going for years during which millions of people were killed. Lyndon Johnson (who had committed similar horrors) believed Nixon guilty of treason for the sabotage. When Nixon fled Washington, he was about to be impeached for employing a group of thugs to break into a Democratic Party office.

Bill Clinton had, like Nixon, launched a war in violation of not only laws but also of the will of Congress. Lesser charges could have included numerous disastrous policies that haunt us still from trade to banking to media to prisons to welfare. Congress impeached him for lying about sex.

Donald Trump came into office openly violating both emoluments clauses, threatening to wage wars to steal oil and kill people’s families, promising to discriminate in immigration on the basis of religion, inciting violence at events, fighting vote counting in courts, and committed to politicizing prosecutions. Republican Congress Members are upset that RootsAction.org advocated impeachment on inauguration day. I hadn’t wanted to wait that long. Trump has publicly threatened nuclear war on two countries, waged and escalated numerous illegal wars, and dramatically increased the drone murder program. He’s abused the pardon power and the power to declare emergencies. He’s promoted racism and hatred. He’s separated children from their families. He’s illegally torn up treaties and proliferated weapons technology to brutal dictatorships. He’s intentionally exacerbated climate collapse. Congress has ignored indisputable public acts, and impeached Trump for demanding information about a political opponent while delaying a gift of money to Ukraine to buy U.S. weapons.

Of course in their rhetoric and through the media many Democrats have claimed that Trump secretly works against the United States on behalf of the Russian government and that Russia somehow elected him. If there were any evidence for such things, they would constitute a serious reason to impeach Trump and remove him from office. But there actually is evidence — unquestionable evidence — of numerous other outrages, and Congress isn’t interested.

In three presidential impeachments, Congress will achieve three somewhat intentional acquittals. Impeachment will be made to look weak and useless. People will be reluctant to give Congress a fourth swing at it.

But look at what’s been passed up without a word. Look what we’re supposed to imagine: that Barack Obama did nothing whatsoever that was impeachable, that George W. Bush committed no impeachable offenses, that every president going back through 45 of them — with these few exceptions — was undeserving of accusation.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced 35 articles of impeachment against George W. Bush, not a one of which interested Nancy Pelosi, even though polls found a majority of the U.S. public in support of an impeachment that wasn’t even happening.

Launching the endless wars, imprisoning without trial, torturing, mass warrentless spying, secret laws, signing statements, domestic use of the military, and dozens of other outrages just don’t measure up to bribing Ukraine for dirt on Joe Biden (who himself publicly brags about bribing Ukraine for other purposes). Or so Congress would have us believe.

Impeachment has not been overused. It has been underused and misused. It and we are the worse off for it.

~ David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. He has advocated breaking up the United States into smaller more manageable countries. Swanson believes this will make it easier to hold our politicians accountable and end the US empire. 

Holiday party time!



Announcing US Green Party senatorial candidate Lisa Savage's New Year's eve party, starting at 9:00 PM on December 31.

Come sign her ballot access petition after the stroke of midnight!

Will be held at the Portland Media Center, 516 Congress St., Portland, Maine.

Mary Beth and I will be there!

See more about Lisa here.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

A Maine artist tells the stories


TRUTH TELLERS: Robert Shetterly's Odyssey to Celebrate Great Americans from Richard Kane on Vimeo.

Truth Tellers is a film about American courage. Shortly after 9/11 and catalyzed by lies behind the US attack on Iraq, Maine artist Robert Shetterly, filled with angst, knew he had to act: leave behind the country he loved or find a way to rally fellow citizens against an unjust war. So he undertook a campaign to do what he knew best – paint -- and began surrounding himself with Americans whose honest voices courageously defend democracy.

Nearly 20 years and 250 portraits later, Americans Who Tell the Truth has become a widely shown exhibit depicting great Americans, their words scratched into each portrait.

Truth Tellers follows Shetterly as he travels across the nation, engaging children and adults in dialog about how we must live up to our ideals, the responsibility of citizenship, and the importance of truth in a democracy. Truth Tellers is itself a portrait – of the artist who continues to inspire all of us to become “models of courageous citizenship.”

You can help tell Shetterly’s story. Go to kanelewis.com and click on DONATE NOW.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Pouring down in America


Last Saturday the annual Advent peace vigils were held at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in the cold pouring rain.  But 13 of us warmed one anothers hearts as we waited for the weekend shift workers to file out.  (click on the photos for a better view of the signs and rain drops)


Cynthia Howard was cozy inside her Polar Bear outfit that she uses in many places to challenge people to see their place inside nature's Sacred Hoop of life



Maureen Kehoe-Ostensen and Mary Beth Sullivan talk to a worker as he leaves the shipyard that builds Navy destroyers outfitted with so-called 'missile defense' systems that are being used to help NATO encircle China and Russia.  Those two countries don't take these deployments as a friendly act.  These provocative military moves could well be the triggers for a war we don't need.


The word pouring
is fitting here.
Pouring rain,
workers pouring out of the shipyard,
making more money
than they have likely
ever had before

Pouring the nation's
wealth down the rat
hole,
wasted hundreds
of billions
while students
are shackled
to college debt

We're told,
by misleaders,
there is no $$$$
to deal with
our many problems

Old folks without
adequate
health care,
Young moms
wondering
how they will
pay for the new baby,
born into the
uncertainty
of climate crisis
and
growing income
disparity
as the rich
get richer
while the banksters
and war mongers
run both
political parties.

The masses
get excited,
distracted,
by impeachment
and candidates
who have already
pledged their support
for the chosen one.

The DNC's
Madison Avenue
scripted
convention
will ceremoniously
deliver
the 'acceptable leader'
to those
suffering
from
'Battered Wife Syndrome'.

Don't worry though,
MSNBC
and the
NY Times
will protect us all,
as their executives
pour expensive
champagne
into golden cups
on Wall Street

Bruce 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Aaron Maté on impeachment



The Democrats claim their articles of impeachment against Trump are a solid case. The Nation and Grayzone contributor Aaron Maté argues that they are actually quite weak, and only serve corporate Democrats' interest in feeding Russiagate paranoia.

Is this a modern example of 'bread and circus?

Take a peek under the tent and see for yourself....

Monday, December 16, 2019

Taking 'Leave of Absence' to work on Lisa Savage campaign for U.S. Senate


You might have already heard that I've asked the Global Network governing boards for permission to take a three-month 'unpaid leave of absence' from the organization. They agreed. I began on December 15 and return to work for the GN on March 16.  (During this period Will Griffin, our GN social media coordinator, will ensure the organization stays visible with help from other board members.)

I am doing this because we have a huge U.S. Senate race in Maine in November 2020.  Our current right-wing Republican Sen. Susan Collins is running for re-election.  The great thing is that Maine citizens, in a statewide referendum, voted to allow Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) for Congressional races (House & Senate) which throws out the old 'spoiler' complaint about third-parties.

Thus my friend Lisa Savage, one of our leaders in the Maine peace & justice movement, has decided to throw her hat into the ring and is running for the Senate seat as the Maine Green Independent Party (MGIP) candidate.  In order to get on the ballot Lisa must gather petition signatures from 2,000 registered MGIP members.  This will be a tough process because we have a limited time to accomplish this goal - January 1 to March 15.  In other words, in the middle of winter in Maine.


Lisa has been a public school teacher in one of Maine's poorest counties for the last 25 years.  She's been a key figure in our Bath Iron Works conversion project due to her deep concern about the reality of the coming climate catastrophe.  She created the Maine Natural Guard to work on the climate issue some years ago and is a very dedicated, hard-working and articulate spokesperson.  She's been one of the leaders in the U.S. in exposing the connections between the Pentagon's massive carbon boot print and global warming.

Lisa was also very active in the Skowhegan High School controversy about retiring the racist Native American mascot at the school.  Her father attended that school and it is an issue close to her heart because she has many friends and neighbors who are indigenous people in our state.  After a long struggle the campaign was successful.

Barry Dana, former chief of the Penobscot Nation and Lisa Savage at a Skowhegan High School public meeting during the successful campaign to retire the racist school mascot.

So Lisa has paid her dues.  She has experience as a teacher's union leader and contract negotiator.  She is tough and gentle.  She suffers no fools. She would make an excellent senator for the people of our state.  You can see an interview I did with her some time ago on my public access TV show - click here.

My role in the campaign will be helping out in whatever way is most needed, such as scheduling, signature gathering, volunteer coordination, data entry, phone calling, and the like.

Green Party people across the nation are offering help and two-time Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has brought much support already to Lisa.  Veterans For Peace friend Tarak Kauff from New York is reaching out nationally to veterans asking them to donate.

Our very active peace network across Maine has largely thrown in their support as well.  Lisa recently was the only candidate running for the U.S. Senate to appear in Lewiston to speak out against the proposed environmentally destructive CMP Power Line Corridor through our state.


Three people (two part-time and one full time signature coordinator) have already been hired by the campaign.  Happily people in Maine and beyond are donating to help make these hires possible but we have to sustain the effort through this crucial signature gathering period.  I hope you will consider making a much needed campaign contribution as well.  Please check out Lisa's web site here.

If we can get Lisa on the ballot she will be in the debates on TV and radio broadcast across Maine.  She will be invited to speak in communities across the state. Many people who are frustrated with the current corporate dominated political system already are excited and offering to help.  More will come onboard the Lisa for Maine team as they learn about her campaign.

The leading Democrat in the Senate race (Sara Gideon), like the Republican Susan Collins, is being heavily funded (well over $6 million each, a year before the election) by corporate interests from outside the state.  Already TV commercials and mailings to voters by the Republican and Democrat candidates are driving Maine voters nuts.  None of them are talking about the serious issues we face like endless regime change wars, climate catastrophe, Medicare for All, getting rid of student debt, ending tax cuts for the rich and corporations, halting the growing surveillance state, and much more.

VFP member Dud Hendrick hosted a house party for Lisa on Sunday in Deer Isle.  More than 40 folks turned out - some of whom were Democrats who pledged to re-register for Green Party so they can sign to get Lisa on the ballot.  The following photos are from the party - click on them for a better view.

Brooksville artist Rob Shetterly (Americans Who Tell the Truth) was at the party and volunteered to host the next one at his home.

Lisa (center right) listens to some of the house party participants. She got great reviews on her talk to the assembled from those attending

Even if a great progressive wins the Democratic Party nomination for president (not likely to be allowed by the corporate controlled DNC) and then beats Trump, they still would not be able to change much unless we get some really strong people into the Senate – people like Lisa Savage.  In this Ranked Choice Voting race Lisa stands a real chance to win.  But first we have to get her on the ballot with 2,000 registered Maine Green Independent voters.  

Let’s do that and help move the country in a better direction before it is too late!  You can help as well.

I hope to work with you along this important campaign trail.

Bruce

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Sunday song



This song is in honor of my son Julian's birthday (December 13).  He was born five days after the killing of John Lennon in 1980.  His mom and I chose the name Julian to remember John who also had a son named Julian.

Paul McCartney wrote this song for Julian Lennon when as a young boy his parents got divorced.  Paul had taken Julian for a ride in the car and came up with this one.

My love to John Lennon and both Julian Gagnon and Julian Lennon


.