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, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

At long last my book, Come Together Right Now - Organizing Stories from a Fading Empire, is at the printer. Can order it directly from the Global Network for $16 (covers s/h). Send check to PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011. Should be printed in the next couple of weeks. The endorsements on the left side are hard for you to read. They are from Journalism professor Karl Grossman, Daniel Ellsberg who released the infamous Pentagon Papers, Sr. Ardeth Platte the Dominican nun in prison for her act of disarmament, and Dr. Helen Caldicott. Wish me luck with the book.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Hillary Clinton has been hanging out with Republicans a lot lately, like Newt Gingrich. Just this past weekend she was at the last evangelical rally held by Billy Graham. In fact the Rev. Graham said that her husband should become a preacher while Hillary "runs the country." A couple questions. Why would the Rev. Billy Graham, long associated with right-wing Republicans, have the Clinton duo sitting in the front row of his last big event? Why did Bill recently hang out for a weekend with George H.W. Bush and the word is they are big friends these days. Just today on CNN I heard a Republican party leader say that the Democrats should listen to the "hawk" Hillary on the Iraq war issue. Has the power structure made a decision to make Hillary the next president? Are they now redefining Hillary to the conservative base by having her hang out with Gingrich, Frist, Bill Graham, etc.? Could a fix be on the way? Keep posted.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Wouldn't it be better to have windmills, solar power, and public mass transit rather than an endless war for oil in the Middle East and Central Asia? Why can't the public begin to demand the conversion of the military industrial complex? After all, it is our money.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Yesterday Mary Beth and I joined over 80 others in Bangor at the federal building were we held a five-hour vigil reading the names of the more than 1,700 GI's killed in Iraq and an equal number of innocent Iraqi civilians.

While we read the names on the federal building plaza, we also had six people at a time inside the office of Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) reading the names. Throughout the day we rotated people into the office to take a turn reading names and marking an X on a banner that read "Iraq War Dead." We had one banner inside the building and one outside on the plaza.

It appeared that a good number of media outlets covered the event. WERU radio covered the beginning and end of the vigil by having several of us speak live on the radio explaining why we were protesting.

Throughout the day we handed out our statement to people passing by the federal building and we also were able to gather over 250 signatures on a petition calling for an end to the war.

People from many different peace groups came during the day. Some stayed the whole day and others came for a couple hours. Two young kids came by and joined us and did a great job of gathering petition signatures.

We next plan to organize another of these readings in the Portland area in coming months. We've already shown that our efforts have forced Rep. Tom Allen to agree to hold a public town hall meeting on the war. Now we intend to keep the pressure on our two Republican senators until they both agree to do the same. We must turn these politicians away from their support for the war. To accomplish that task will take many more days of hard work like yesterday. But it was not all hard work in Bangor. What we also did was build community by gathering good sprited people to stand together. No one left this event untouched by the event.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Condi is on the road explaining to the world how much the U.S. loves democracy and how our troops are fighting so people can be free from tyranny. How can she keep a straight face?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Last night I drove south to Biddeford, Maine to be on a local cable TV show called "Out in left field." I was on the show a couple months ago and had such a good time with the hour-long interview, they asked me to come back. Three folks do the interview and I've never had so much fun talking politics.

When I got back from Biddeford last time I told the story on my blog about the cable facility being inside an old school. They also have a free clinic inside the building and, like last time I was there, it was full of people last night.

I was told by my hosts that Biddeford is having one hell of a time with its town budget. They are having social problems dumped on them as the feds dump onto the states and then the states dump onto the local governments. The local government then gets to be the bearer of bad news. In the case of Biddeford, the bad news is that the local education budget must be cut.

On the cable show we talked about the costs of endless war. We talked about space technology coordinating modern warfare. We talked about America's empire and how the hopes and dreams of the people are fading as the Pentagon eats up our hard-earned tax dollars.

After the show was over I told my hosts about Cornell West's latest book, Democracy Matters, and how he has a chapter in it on the "blues." West says that white folks had better quickly learn how to sing the blues. Blacks have been singing them for hundreds of years in the U.S. as they have learned how to survive in this mean-spirited capitalist system where the dog eats the dog. White folks, not just Indians, are now being put onto the reservation. White folks will now face the humiliation of mass unemployment, no health care, bad education, losing hope. This will mean more social dysfunction for our children.

There is an alternative. But that would require a political fight. It would require people to quickly organize to oppose the expansion of the military industrial complex and endless war. It would require a political demand that we not spend $100 billion or more a year in Iraq and instead use that money for education, health care, public transportation and the like. So it is really up to you. Do you want to have to sing the blues?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Recently two separate sources have claimed that the U.S. military is dramatically underestimating the number of GI's killed in Iraq. The claim is the current estimates of 1,700 dead do not count those who died after being evacuated to Germany or other destinations. The sources state that internal Pentagon documents reveal over 9,000 have died. Wouldn't it be nice if the media would lock onto this story as hard as they did the Michael Jackson trial? By keeping the public honoring of U.S. war dead to a bare minimum, Bush has so far been successful in keeping the inquires suppressed.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) was joined by 10 members of Congress last Thursday as he delivered a letter with 560,000 signatures to the White House. The letter called on the Bush administration to provide answers about the Downing Street memo that clearly indicates Bush lied in order to drag the nation into war. We need more of this congressional direct action. The people are starving for leadership and John Conyers is showing it.

Friday, June 17, 2005


I drove to Norway, Maine last night to speak to a group of people about the conversion of the military industrial complex. I had to leave the office early in order to get there in time to meet my hosts for dinner. Along the way I listened to National Public Radio's report on the Democrat's hearing about the Downing Street memo. Before I left I had heard the testimony of Cindy Sheehan, mother of Casey who was killed in Iraq on 4/4/04. Last winter I had Cindy, who lives in California, on my local cable TV show and had organized a dinner talk for her at a local restaurant. She spoke powerfully yesterday about the betrayal she, and other parents of GI's killed in Iraq, felt by our current war-hungry government.

During the Q & A time after my talk we spent a lot of time dealing with the profound feeling of powerlessness felt by many in the public at this moment. Even though polls show that 60% of the American people want the troops to come home, there is still strong support for the war among key leaders of the Democratic party. If the opposition party still supports the war, how can we expect Bush to feel the heat? Even Howard Dean has stopped talking about Iraq since becoming the chair of the Democratic party.

It is clear to me that we need to urge local activists to run people in primaries all over the U.S. during the next election cycle. They need to run as Democrats and Greens and speak out strongly against the war, military spending, and the need to offer an alternative economic vision for the nation. They need to talk about conversion of the military industrial complex, the need for rapid development of sustainable technologies (wind, solar, public transporation, etc) and they need to call for a reinvigoration of funding for our human infrastructure including education, health care, child care, environmental clean-up and the like. We need to go on a vision offensive. We can't wait for the Democrats to wake up from their corporate funded decade drinking binge. They (with a few noble exceptions) are an unreliable political partner.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bush tells the American people that he did not plan, long before 9-11, to go to war with Iraq. The Downing Street memo from London reveals that Bush faked the intelligence that led to war. The media has been slow to report this blockbuster story. The Republican-controlled Congress refuses to investigate. How is this not an impeachable offense? Bigger than a Monica Lewinsky?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Space industry depiction of the "Rods from God" space weapon the Bush administration is now developing. Bush is expected to release a new national space policy this month giving the green light for further development and possible deployment of offensive space weapons.

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Yesterday our Veterans for Peace (VfP) chapter went to the capitol in Augusta to be with Russ Christensen who has walked 130 miles since May 4 calling for an end to the war in Iraq. Russ is a Korean war veteran and is 73 years old. As he walked he passed out a proclamation calling on Maine's Governor Baldacci and leaders of the Maine State House and Senate to demand a recall of U.S. military forces stationed in Iraq.

A dozen VfP members met Russ at the capitol for a news conference. I brought along a handful of signs saying things like: Money for jobs not war; Fund human needs not warfare; Healthcare not warfare; War drains economy. As we were preparing to set up our vigil and news conference inside the capitol rotunda two women approached us and suggested we move up one floor and stand in the hallway between the entrances to the senate and house chambers. The two women then went around looking for media folks and tried to steer them our way. One of the women then asked us for a list of all the VfP members present and our home towns. Come to find out she was a state representative from Lewiston, called herself a pacifist, and after we had held the signs for about an hour in the hallway, she told us to go sit in the balcony of the house and she would have us recognized from the floor.

So we moved to the balcony, carrying our protest signs with us. After the house had taken a few more votes they moved to announcements and the leader of the house said there was a motion to recognize members of Maine Veterans for Peace who were sitting in the balcony. So the house leader began reading our names and home towns and we all stood up. We lifted up our signs so the house members below us could see them. One person on the floor began to boo us and about 1/3 of the house members stood up and applauded us. Many who remained sitting also applauded.

It was quite a moment. I'd never done a protest action inside a legislative assembly before and have them applaud on top of that. Russ made sure that he got a member of the house and senate to sponsor the passing out of the VfP proclamation to each member.

The two-page proclamation ended with this statement, "It is time for you, as our elected leaders, to stop quarreling among yourselves and to unite in a demand that the federal government stop squandering the wealth and the lives of the American people in service to a dream of world domination. The resources that the Bush administration is spending in the futile attempt to seize control over Iraq are needed at home to care for the American people; and you, as our elected leaders, need to say that to Washington. Such a forthright stand, beginning in Maine, might well spread throughout the country, thereby reversing the disastrous course upon which our nation is now embarked, under the disastrously short-sighted leadership of the Bush administration."

We are now talking about another walk in Maine. I've suggested that we do a walk to Brunswick before the planned September 10 Veterans for Peace demonstration at the Naval air station where the Blue Angels will be performing that weekend. This would help extend the demonstration beyond Brunswick and bring out message of opposition to the war in Iraq to a larger audience in Maine.

It was another bright moment for our VfP chapter. It came one day after a man wrote a letter to the editor of the Brunswick Times Record complaining about our VfP participation in the recent Memorial Day parade. He contended that our presence in the parade "was discouraging and sad" and had "tainted the uplifting event that a Memorial Day parade should be." "If the Veterans for Peace insist on marching again, I would encourage the parade committee to refuse its entry due to the fact that its intentions are politically motivated," the letter writer concluded.

Once more we see how some American citizens wish to ignore the insanity of war. It is a pleasure to belong to a group like VfP that is determined to stand in the face of silence.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


I took a couple days off this week as my sister who lives in Iowa came for a visit. We went out exploring some of the beautiful lobster fishing villages along the coast here in Maine and ate our share of seafood. I took her around to meet some of our new friends in the area and she loved seeing the gardens blooming all around. Mainers love to garden once spring comes after having been inside so much during the long, hard winter. Even my flower and vegetable garden is looking good.

The first layout of my book came back from my publisher today. There were a few minor things that needed to be fixed but not much. She had plugged the artwork into the book and it looks quite good. She told me she already found it hard to stop reading it as she was doing the desktop publishing so I took that as a good sign. I've already begun to work on getting publicity about the book into peace group newsletters across the country and have had a positive response from people who I asked to give it some promo. So things are moving along nicely.

On Friday I will join some Maine Veterans for Peace who will be marching to the state capital in Augusta and holding a news conference. The state is in fiscal crisis and the walkers, who will have been on the road for several days, are calling on state political leaders to make statements opposing the war in Iraq. That is where the big money is going. The federal government says they have no money for social spending and are dumping social programs onto the state's backs. The states have no money so they are cutting programs and social services. We need to get the state political leaders around the country to be more vocal in opposition to the war. What could your state do with your share of $200 billion wasted on the war?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call


For mom Marcia Cobb and her teenage son Axel, the white letters USMC
on their caller ID soon spelled, "Don't answer the phone!"

Marine recruiters began a relentless barrage of calls to Axel as soon
as the mellow, compliant Sedro-Woolley High School grad had cut his
17th birthday cake. And soon it was nearly impossible to get the
seekers of a few good men off the line.

With early and late calls ringing in their ears, Marcia tried using
call blocking. And that's when she learned her first hard lesson. You
can't block calls from the government, her server said. So, after
pleas to "Please stop calling" went unanswered, the family's "do not
answer" order ensued.

But warnings and liquid crystal lettering can fade. So, two weeks ago
when Marcia was cooking dinner Axel goofed and answered the call.
And, faster than you can say "semper fi," an odyssey kicked into
action that illustrates just how desperate some of the recruiters
we've read about really are to fill severely sagging quotas.

Let what we learned serve as a warning to other moms, dads and teens,
the Cobbs now say. Even if your kids actually may want to join the
military, if they hope to do it on their own terms, after a deep
breath and due consideration, repeat these words after them: "No,"
"Not now" and "Back off!"

"I've been trained to be pretty friendly. I guess you might even say
I'm kind of passive," Axel told me last week, just after his mother
and older sister had tracked him to a Seattle testing center and
sprung him on a ruse.

The next step of Axel's misadventure came when he heard about a cool
"chin-ups" contest in Bellingham, where the prize was a free Xbox.
The now 18-year-old Skagit Valley Community College student dragged
his tail feathers home uncharacteristically late that night. And, in
the morning, Marcia learned the Marines had hosted the event and
"then had him out all night, drilling him to join."

A single mom with a meager income, Marcia raised her kids on the farm
where, until recently, she grew salad greens for restaurants.

Axel's father, a Marine Corps vet who served in Vietnam, died when Axel was 4.

Clearly the recruiters knew all that and more.

"You don't want to be a burden to your mom," they told him. "Be a
man." "Make your father proud." Never mind that, because of his own
experience in the service, Marcia says enlistment for his son is the
last thing Axel's dad would have wanted.

The next weekend, when Marcia went to Seattle for the Folklife
Festival and Axel was home alone, two recruiters showed up at the

Axel repeated the family mantra, but he was feeling frazzled and worn
down by then. The sergeant was friendly but, at the same time,
aggressively insistent. This time, when Axel said, "Not interested,"
the sarge turned surly, snapping, "You're making a big (bleeping)

Next thing Axel knew, the same sergeant and another recruiter showed
up at the LaConner Brewing Co., the restaurant where Axel works. And
before Axel, an older cousin and other co-workers knew or understood
what was happening, Axel was whisked away in a car.

"They said we were going somewhere but I didn't know we were going
all the way to Seattle," Axel said.

Just a few tests. And so many free opportunities, the recruiters told him.

He could pursue his love of chemistry. He could serve anywhere he
chose and leave any time he wanted on an "apathy discharge" if he
didn't like it. And he wouldn't have to go to Iraq if he didn't want

At about 3:30 in the morning, Alex was awakened in the motel and fed
a little something. Twelve hours later, without further sleep or
food, he had taken a battery of tests and signed a lot of papers he
hadn't gotten a chance to read. "Just formalities," he was told.
"Sign here. And here. Nothing to worry about."

By then Marcia had "freaked out."

She went to the Burlington recruiting center where the door was open
but no one was home. So she grabbed all the cards and numbers she
could find, including the address of the Seattle-area testing center.

Then, with her grown daughter in tow, she high-tailed it south,
frantically phoning Axel whose cell phone had been confiscated "so he
wouldn't be distracted during tests."

Axel's grandfather was in the hospital dying, she told the people at
the desk. He needed to come home right away. She would have said just
about anything.

But, even after being told her son would be brought right out, her
daughter spied him being taken down a separate hall and into another
room. So she dashed down the hall and grabbed him by the arm.

"They were telling me I needed to 'be a man' and stand up to my
family," Axel said.

What he needed, it turned out, was a lawyer.

Five minutes and $250 after an attorney called the recruiters, Axel's
signed papers and his cell phone were in the mail.

My request to speak with the sergeant who recruited Axel and with the
Burlington office about recruitment procedures went unanswered.

And so should your phone, Marcia Cobb advised. Take your own sweet
time. Keep your own counsel. And, if you see USMC on caller ID,
remember what answering the call could mean.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

This is how the military recruits kids. War is fun, like a play ground. On September 10 the Navy's Blue Angels will perform an "airshow" at the Naval air station in Brunswick, Maine and Veterans for Peace will organize a demonstration. Over 100,000 people are expected to turn out for that "Gods of metal" worshipping.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Open house at Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs - home of the Air Force Space Command. Tell me the military is not promoting war and violence. We need a non-violent revolution for sure.


Jane's Revolution
By Ed Rampell, AlterNet
Posted on June 4, 2005

Jane Fonda, whose trips to north Vietnam during that war propeled her onto the world stage, has returned to public life with her autobiography, My Life So Far, and the release of Monster-in-Law, her first feature film in 15 years. At a special Hollywood double feature of two suppressed documentaries, the feisty two-time Academy Award winner also showed herself to be as antiwar as ever.

The rare screening at the Directors Guild of America's theaters last month was only the third projection of the restored print of FTA (Fuck The Army). Fonda told the overflowing crowd: "I haven't seen FTA on the big screen in thirty-some years."

The 90-minute documentary, made in 1972, chronicles the tour of antiwar entertainers to venues near U.S. bases around the Pacific Rim, where they agitated against the Vietnam War and military policies. The FTA troupe included Fonda, actor Donald Sutherland, singer Holly Near, comic Paul Mooney, Peter Boyle of TV's "Everybody Loves Raymond" and singer/songwriter Country Joe McDonald.

David O. Russell, director of Three Kings (1999) and Soldiers Pay, the other doc on the double bill, declared: "I was shocked by the intensity of FTA, and the fact that all these soldiers were going to this, and by the boldness. It's about a very spirited pinnacle of the counterculture."

Vietnam veteran Oliver Stone, director of the '80s films Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, called FTA "The highest form of free expression we've seen in America in a long, long time."

G.I. Resistance

FTA grew largely out of the G.I. resistance movement to the Vietnam war, as well as the classism, racism and sexism perpetrated by the military brass against soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen and women. The shows consisted of songs and skits, often with a comic panache, always with an anti-militaristic thrust and sometimes with a feminist consciousness. A counterpoint to Bob Hope's pro-war USO tours, the FTA pro-peace troupers performed in Hawaii, the Philippines and Japan, but were refused entry to south Vietnam. The overseas audiences for what Fonda called FTA's "political vaudeville" was composed mainly of 64,000 disaffected servicemen and women.

"There were great reviews of the film made from that tour," said Stone. "And it played exactly for a week in the United States." According to Stone, FTA's director, Francine Parker, said "calls were made from high up in Washington, possibly from the Nixon White House, and the film was just disappeared."

Following the screenings Stone moderated a panel discussion with Fonda, Parker and Russell. Commenting on FTA's removal from distribution, Fonda said, "I must say, looking at it now, it's no wonder. Think of all the propaganda that those of us who opposed the war were 'anti-troops.' When you see thousands of guys and women with their fists in the air who were active duty military personnel, it's a different slant. Now, in the context of Iraq, it's very -- what's the word? Subversive."

"By the way, it's happening today with the Iraq veterans," Fonda added. "For example at the second invasion of Iraq, at Fort Bragg, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, there was the largest [antiwar] rally since 1970, which I was at. This time, all the speeches were made by returned American veterans of the Iraq war, and families and parents. It's an example of what's happening now within the military in Iraq. They're not getting the kind of help that they need."

Fonda denounced "the cutback of hundreds of millions of dollars to the VA administration the day after the troops were sent to Iraq to invade, just after the 'Support Our Troops' resolution. Reach out to military families because they're living it, and give support to them," she encouraged the audience.

Stone asked: "Is it possible for what you call the Iraq protest movement in the military to ever get recognized publicly?" Fonda replied to applause from the audience: "Well, we have to make sure that it is. Yes, I think so. The movement is definitely growing."

In today's military, Fonda said, "Classism is the biggie right now, because there's no draft, and that's not fair. You're only getting the poor kids." Perhaps in jest, the actress urged Russell to tour the country with Soldiers Pay, and Russell said he'd do it if she'd come. Always game, Fonda responded, "I will!" and the audience applauded.

War Revisionism

Stone asked Fonda how America had changed since 1971. "We never came to terms with the war," she replied. "Revisionism set in and Americans were made to believe that we could have won the war, if it hadn't been for the antiwar movement and so-called 'liberal media.' That was during the Reagan administration and it was very handy for the first Bush administration when we went into the Gulf War.

"Remember what happened? 'Oh, if you're against this war you're going to be a traitor like those people back in the sixties and seventies.' People got scared because they didn't know what the truth was. That's continuing today. Of course, this administration is just totally brilliant at playing on our fears. With the invasion of Iraq, it was raised to an art form. You know, 'you're either with us or against us.' If you speak out against the war you're [considered] a terrorist," Fonda said.

On a more upbeat note she mused, "Today, Nixon and Reagan are looking mighty good. I think this is the scariest time I've ever lived through. It's a dying beast, and they're always the scariest and most dangerous. Just below the crust of the surface there is a volcano ready to erupt. It's our job to create critical mass and ignite it.

"It's a really confusing time; it's more complicated than Vietnam," she continued. "There was no Saddam Hussein during Vietnam. Everybody agreed Saddam had to go. Did there need to be an invasion where 100,000 innocent civilians die in the process? I don't think so. People are waiting out there for leadership. I was asked: 'What's happened to the Left?' Progressivism is alive and well, but it's women who are going to have to rise up and lead it now."

"Jane is a great revolutionary," Stone said admiringly. "We need that type. 'Storm the barricades.'"

Since the rights to FTA are owned by Fonda, Sutherland and director Parker, Stone suggesting re-releasing the film. "You've got to get it out there, Jane. You can do a lot with digital now. Would you like to see it on the Internet?"

"We'd have to think very hard about who we would try to get the film distributed to," Fonda said. "I'm not sure that our main audience isn't the military. Technology has made it possible for us to get stuff out there in such an easier, democratic and inexpensive way.

"I just spent five weeks traveling around the country, and except for one incident where a vet spit at me, what I'm seeing is that people are ready and hungry for statements like this. They really are. I'm talking in the heartland, in those red states."

Ed Rampell is an L.A.-based film critic and freelancer. His latest book, "Progressive Hollywood, A People's Film History of the United States," was published by DisInfo in May.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


The Bush administration is expected to soon announce a new national space policy that will give the Pentagon the green light to move toward deployment of offensive weapons in space.

The new directive could allow deployment of lasers in space; attack planes that descend on targets from space; anti-satellite weapons, which would disrupt or destroy other nation's satellites; and tungsten rods fired from space platforms that would gather speeds of over 7,000 mph and be able to penetrate underground targets.

In the Air Force Space Command’s Strategic Master Plan, FY06 and Beyond, the military said, “Our vision calls for prompt global strike space systems with the capability to apply force from or through space against terrestrial targets. International treaties and laws do not prohibit the use or presence of conventional weapons in space.”

There was a treaty that limited the research, development, testing and deployment of such offensive space systems. It was the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia. Once in office, George W. Bush withdrew the U.S. from the treaty and moved forward with expanded research and development on offensive space weapons.

The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq was largely coordinated from space. Over 70% of the weapons used in the war were guided to their targets by military satellites. Thus the Pentagon maintains that the U.S. must “deny” other nations the use of space in order to maintain “full spectrum dominance.”

In order to sell this space warfare program to the American people, the Pentagon has labeled it “missile defense.” But in reality the program is all about offensive engagement and was first spelled out in the 1997 Space Command plan, Vision for 2020, that called for U.S. “control and domination” of space.

The Pentagon and its aerospace corporation allies understand that they cannot come to the American people and ask for hundreds of billions of dollars for offensive weapons in space. Thus the claim of “missile defense.” The U.S. has to date spent well over $130 billion on Star Wars research and development. The budget for military-related space activity in 2003 was $18 billion and is expected to top $25 billion a year by 2010.

With growing budget deficits in the U.S., Congress will have to drastically cut needed programs like Medicare, Medicaid, education, public transit, and environmental clean-up in order to pay the growing cost of space weapons technology.

The world has become reliant on satellites for cell phones, cable TV, ATM bank machines and the like. Space debris is already a problem as space shuttles have had windshields cracked by bits of paint orbiting the Earth at enormous speeds. Imagine what would happen if the U.S. began destroying satellites in space, creating massive amounts of orbiting space junk, that made access to space virtually impossible for everyone.

For the last several years the Space Command, headquartered in Colorado Springs, held a computer simulation space war game set in the year 2017. The game pitted the “Blues” (U.S.) against the “Reds” (China). In the war game the U.S. launched a preemptive first strike attack against China using the military space plane (called Global Strike). Armed with a half-ton of precision-guided munitions the space plane would fly down from orbit and strike anywhere in the world in 45 minutes.

It is easy to see why Canada, Russia, and China have repeatedly gone to the United Nations asking the U.S. to join them in negotiating a new global ban on weapons in space. Why not close the door to the barn before the horse gets out? So far the U.S., during both the Clinton and Bush administrations, refuses to even discuss the idea of a new space treaty.

Gen. Lance Lord, head of the Air Force Space Command, recently told Congress, “Space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny.” The idea that the U.S. is destined to rule the Earth and space militarily needs to be seriously debated by the citizens of our nation. Not only is this a provocative and immoral notion, it is also one that will lead to a massive waste of our hard-earned tax dollars and create a dangerous new arms race. Do we really want war in the heavens?

Friday, June 03, 2005


I took my book to my production and lay-out person yesterday. She told me it would take about 6 weeks to get it printed. I handed over the last of the artwork that will be going into it and had earlier sent her the final edited copy. Had three volunteers do the editing on the book and my long-time friend W.B. Park in Florida has kindly agreed to allow me to include about 25 of his illustrations in the book. He has illustrated my organizing work for the last 20 years -- doing the cartoons and drawings for posters, leaflets, and newsletters. I think it will add much to the book.

After consulting with many people I settled on the title Come Together Right Now: Organizing Stories from a Fading Empire. The use of the word fading illustrates for me the disinvestment that our corporate-dominated government is doing in America. As corporations move overseas to maximize profits, they don't care about country anymore. So we see cuts in education, health care, the infrastructure of the country (roads, bridges, rail systems crumbling), the psychological health of the people declining (40% of American's are taking drugs for depression) and the like. We've become a military empire but the well is running dry.

So my prescription for our survival as people is that we have to come together right now and fight back to hang onto some degree of dignity. If we don't watch out, pretty soon the only jobs in the U.S. will be working at Wal-Mart for substandard wages that have no benefits. (Many workers at Wal-Mart have to apply for welfare and food stamps in order to get by. Thus the taxpayers ends up subsidizing Wal-Mart. Call it what it is -- corporate welfare or socialism for the rich!)