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
Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Lenten vigils begin at BIW

Eleven of us gathered at Bath Iron Works (BIW) at 7:00 yesterday morning on Ash Wednesday to begin the annual Lenten vigils at the shipyard that only builds destroyers for the Navy.

We greeted the executives who were entering the administration building and the rank-and-file workers as they passed us by.

Our message to the workers is two-fold.  First, we can't afford war any longer - it is destroying our environment. The Pentagon is the largest contributor of green house gases which causes climate crisis.  The massive military budget must be used for urgent human, environmental and infrastructure needs.  War is obsolete.

Our second message is conversion.  We must convert the shipyard to build commuter rail systems, offshore wind turbines, tidal power systems and other such technologies that help us begin the process of lessening our carbon footprint on Mother Earth.  It is a matter of survival for the future generations. 

Studies have long revealed that if we made such a transition we'd create more jobs as military spending is 'capital intensive', meaning it burns up funds while creating fewer jobs than if we invested in any other kind of production that would be 'labor intensive'.  See one of the recent studies here.

We will return to BIW every Saturday during Lent (until April 11) at 11:30 in front of the administration building on Washington Street in Bath.

During the Lenten season of self-examination and reflection, Christians who observe Lent typically make a commitment to fast, or to give up something.  We are calling on the US to give up war, arrogance, domination and the moral superiority that is rotting the soul of our nation.

The time has come to reflect on our evil killing ways around the world, to repent, to take responsibility for our actions and to change our hearts and our ways.


~ Photo by Peter Woodruff - the sign I am holding was also made by Peter who worked at BIW for more than 30 years.  I carry it in his honor.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Pay to play alive and well in South Carolina

A room full of rich people in South Carolina who paid thousands of dollars to the DNC to get into the debate - poor and working class people be damned.....

They cheered the statements in favor of the rich and booed statements opposing the rule of the 1%.

Welcome to democracy inside of the Democrat Party.

Understanding the mess in Syria

Pushback with Aaron Maté

Idlib is facing a humanitarian disaster as hundreds of thousands flee a Syrian and Russian military campaign to retake the province from militant rule. Overlooked in Western coverage of the crisis is that Idlib is mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a rebranded affiliate of Al-Qaeda -- and that Turkey, with U.S. backing, has intervened to keep the extremist group in place.

Guest: Scott Ritter, former UN Weapons Inspector and Marine Corps Intelligence Officer.

See an illuminating discussion of the Syria situation by people from Russia, Iran and Turkey here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Lisa Savage to take independent route to ballot

Our deadline to reach 2,000 signatures of registered Green party members in Maine is fast approaching.  An honest evaluation of our situation indicates that we have no chance of getting the required signatures for Lisa Savage's US Senate race by the March 15 deadline.  The two-party control of Maine's state government has ensured that they have crafted a ballot access law that makes it virtually impossible for us to succeed.

Maine's Secretary of State Matt Dunlap told the Bangor Daily News last week that moving to presidential primaries (rather than the traditional caucus) produced an “unforeseen consequence” for third parties. “I think it’s just circumstantial, not intentional,” he said, “but it does make it much harder for a statewide third-party candidate.”

In the past month we've been hearing from several past and present leaders of the Maine Green Independent Party urging Lisa to switch to Independent (called 'unenrolled' in Maine) so that she could continue to run.  By making such a switch Lisa could gather signatures from any registered voter - Greens, Democrats, Republicans, or Independents.  We would have to gather 4,000 signatures by June 1 which everyone believes will be much easier.

Because we could previously only get registered Greens signatures in Maine we were collecting at the average rate of one signature per hour.  Maine is very rural and we had to take our Green lists and drive from here to there in the snow and ice hoping we found someone at home.  We got over 900 signatures basically doing that.

Under the new 'Independent' designation we can stand in front of the post office, library or at some spring festival and gather signatures by the scores as people pass by.  So that is what Lisa has decided to do.

Former two-time Maine Green Party candidate for governor Jonathan Carter was one of those who has been encouraging Lisa to switch to Independent.  After hearing the news he wrote:

Lisa's decision to run as an independent is a smart move. The system makes it next to impossible for a Green to get on a statewide ballot. Lisa's message for People, Planet , and Peace is far too important to not have it as part of the US Senate race. Lisa has laid the foundation for a fantastic campaign. Let's keep this campaign going all the way to victory on election day! Thank you Lisa.

As Lisa and others have been alerting volunteers to this new decision the vast majority have responded with understanding and pledges of continued support.  Here is one story Lisa shared with me about one of her hometown (Solon, Maine) friends who has been helping on the campaign.

Anecdote: Mark [Lisa's husband] spoke with Solon volunteer and very old friend Sarah when she returned my call. What she told Mark was that she was deeply moved by the conditions she witnessed while canvassing in our area. Extreme poverty beyond anything that she was really aware of. "I live in a castle" was her comment (she and her woodworker husband live in a nice yurt he built & she has a separate studio for her artwork). She is even more fired up to support our campaign now.

Lisa has decided to stay in this race because she feels that she must give voice to the many in our state who are forgotten by the system - and its two corporate-controlled political parties.  She often speaks about the young students at her K-5 school.  She talks about their poverty, one of their parents being locked up in jail, having no food or heat in their homes.  No medical care to speak of.  No future.

This past week Lisa spent most of her vacation week off from school driving all over the state to meet students at various colleges.  The other night at Unity College a group of students attended a talk by Lisa where among others things she called for the erasing of student debt.  In the Q & A a young man shared how he was 'scared' about his future because of huge college debt.  You could just see the experienced teacher in her as she calmly and confidently responded to him with love and compassion.

The campaign strategy now is to send volunteers to primary voter polling stations across the state on March 3 - Super Tuesday.  We will be asking people to sign her ballot access petition and any registered voter will be able to do so.  It is possible we could come away from that one day with nearly half of the needed signatures.

I will need to return to my job at the Global Network on March 16 but will continue to volunteer in this campaign during my free time.  I believe in Lisa - as a friend and as someone who cares deeply about the future generations and all life on our Mother Earth.  The message she is delivering is important for the public to hear.

It's an honor to be with her on this path.  We must all find ways to speak these needed truths - now more than ever.

See Lisa's campaign news release here


Monday, February 24, 2020

U.S.-NATO make grab for Arctic region

US-NATO will hold war games in Norway's Arctic Circle in March, where it will be supporting climate change-induced resource extraction and increasing the military tension with Russia. 

Russia has the world's largest land border with the Arctic.

The RAND Corporation (based in Santa Barbara, California) has come out with a study calling for the break-up (Balkanization) of Russia into smaller countries.  This would make it easier for western oil corporations to make deals with these 'new nations' to have access to Arctic resources.  Find the study here.

Of course these moves by US-NATO are provocative, destabilizing and are further leading to tensions with Russia that could explode in a full scale war.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sunday song