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

Friday, September 29, 2006


  Posted by PicasaMay Beth and I leave on September 30 for a two-week trip to India. We will return on October 14. I doubt that I will be able to update the blog while on the trip but if possible I will try to do so.

We will be visiting five Indian cities on behalf of the Global Network. We look forward to the trip and will be reporting on it once back.

In the meantime the U.S. Congress has caved into the Bush administration on the torture bill. This legislation will give Bush the ability to round up activists like you and me and to deport us without any legal representation or trial. This bill is similar to legislation that was used prior to World War I when Emma Goldman and other activists were deported for handing out leaflets against war and urging people not to register for the draft. So we now have a full blown dictatorship. It must be acknowledged that Democrats in significant numbers joined with the right-wing Republicans in Congress to overwhelmingly pass this reactionary legislation. If you needed any further evidence of the bankruptcy of the Democrats than this should do it for you.

See you after I return from India. In the meantime, hit the streets while you still can.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


  Posted by PicasaMy good friend Dud Hendrick, in the photo above, was arrested the other day inside the Hart Senate office building in Washington protesting the U.S. occupation of Iraq. He is from Deer Isle, Maine and artist Pat Wheeler, also from Deer Isle, was also arrested at the same action. In fact I heard just the tail-end of an interview with Pat on Democracy Now. So our Maine friends done good! All in all there were 71 arrested at the action.

Note the Senate office staffers and visitors standing at the railings watching the arrests take place. This was a great occupation to protest the occupation!

Click on the link in the headline above for a full story on the action and more photos.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


  Posted by PicasaYesterday the House of Representatives voted 394-22 in favor of the 2007 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill. The bill provides $453 billion in new budget authority for the Pentagon, including another $50 billion for the occupation of Iraq.

My Congressman, Rep. Tom Allen (Maine's 1st CD), voted yes on the bill making it the seventh straight time he has voted for funding for the war and occupation of Iraq.

Maine's only other Congressman, Rep. Mike Michaud (from Maine's 2nd CD), voted no on the bill due to this opposition to continued funding for the occupation. Michaud has now voted at least three times against war funding.

Last March Rep. Michaud voted against another Bush war supplemental request and said the following: "To write a blank check in Iraq with no accountability and no demand for a plan does no favors for our troops or for the Iraqi people."

The funny thing is that Rep. Michaud is from the more rural and conservative district in Maine. But he is showing to be a man of real integrity and courage.

Rep. Allen is from the much more progressive, urban part of Maine and it would not hurt him one bit to have voted against the funds for the occupation of Iraq. But the word is out that he wants to run for the Senate and it is obvious to me that he is putting his own political advancement above and beyond everything else. Rep. Allen says he is against the war but that he must "morally" support the troops as long as they are occupying Iraq.

Rep. Allen has an opponent in his reelection race this year. Dexter Kamilewicz is running as an Independent against Rep. Allen. Dexter's son Ben was in Iraq for 11 months and just returned home a couple of months ago. He had his Humvee's blown up four times while there and was an outspoken critic of the war during his entire tour of duty. Dexter is calling for a cut in war funding and an immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq. He is also calling for immediate impeachment hearings in the House.

If we want to see the U.S. occupation of Iraq end then we need more courageous politicians like Rep. Mike Michaud has shown to be. Unless we cut the funding for the occupation it will never end.

(Click on the link in the headline above to see the full roster of votes in the House on this appropriations bill.)

Monday, September 25, 2006


  Posted by PicasaWord is circulating that Bush is moving a Naval carrier group including the nuclear aircraft carrier Eisenhower as well as a cruiser, Aegis destroyer, frigate, mine sweepers, submarine escort and supply ship, to the Persian Gulf, just off Iran's western coast.

Former Colorado Senator Gary Hart has this to say about possible war with Iran. "Were these more normal times, this would be a stunning possibility, quickly dismissed by thoughtful people as dangerous, unprovoked, and out of keeping with our national character. But we do not live in normal times. And we do not have a government much concerned with our national character. If anything, our current Administration is out to remake our national character into something it has never been."

According to The Nation magazine, the Eisenhower had been in port at the Naval Station Norfolk for several years for refurbishing and refueling of its nuclear reactor; it had not been scheduled to depart for a new duty station until at least a month later, and possibly not till next spring. Family members, before the orders, had moved into the area and had until then expected to be with their sailor-spouses and parents in Virginia for some time yet. First word of the early dispatch of the "Ike Strike" group to the Persian Gulf region came from several angry officers on the ships involved, who contacted antiwar critics like retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner and complained that they were being sent to attack Iran without any order from the Congress.

So the evidence is mounting that Bush is not bluffing about an attack on Iran. The attack would serve several key purposes. One would be to try to rally the nation, right before the Nov 7 election, around the Republican Party in power. A second would be to widen the Middle East war and force the Democrats, if they were to take power in the House, to continue to "prosecute" that war or face being called weak and unpatriotic.

The only question now is does Bush pull another 9-11 first and blame it on Iran as a pretext for an attack on Iran? Or does he just invade with virtually no real evidence of Iran having a nuclear weapon. And even if Iran did have one, where does Bush come off with 7,500 nukes in the U.S. arsenal of hypocrisy, to tell another country they can't have them?

It now appears that the information I got a couple of months ago about cruise missile targets being selected by U.S. and Israeli military personnel was accurate. These ships moving into the Persian Gulf would be outfitted with Tomahawk first-strike cruise missiles and would likely be the first weapon fired in the attack on Iran.

Folks had better step up the anti-war activity now before it is too late.

Friday, September 22, 2006


  Posted by PicasaI ended my 10-day fast yesterday at noon when 30 folks gathered at our downtown green to vigil for an hour and then share some food. Several of us were able to fast the whole time. Many others fasted at various times during the 10-days. It was a wonderful ending to our Brunswick fast to bring the troops home and cut the funding for the war. During the 10-days of weekday vigils we handed out nearly 1,000 leaflets and were greeted by huge numbers of people driving by. On Wednesday a local man was passing by on the sidewalk and I handed him a leaflet. We talked about 10 minutes. Then yesterday he showed up at noon saying he wanted to join us and hold a sign. He stayed for the food sharing at the end. It was a great affirmation that when you extend your local organizing, when you push yourself further than your normal boundaries, good things happen.

I did better during the 10-day fast than I thought I would. As much as I love to eat it was not quite as difficult to go without food as I had expected it would be. Halfway through I started getting weak and after each one-hour vigil I usually had to come home and lay down for a spell. Having supper again last night was nice and I found that I missed the simple process of cooking as much as eating. It was good though to take that step back and see how the whole food thing is such a part of our lives that we take for granted. For me cooking is my daily meditation, a rhythm that is much like breathing - necessary but mostly unconscious.

Today I head north for the annual fall Common Ground Country Fair. About 60,000 people come all over come to this fair that has become a Maine tradition. Organized by the Maine Organic Farmers & Growers Association it is also the biggest gathering of political organizations, under several huge tents, of the year. Virtually every social or political group active in Maine will be there. Most political candidates will have tables. And the food, organic only, is wonderful.

Mary Beth and I leave on Sept 30 for our trip to India. The two-week speaking tour will take us to five cities and should be quite exciting. I’ve never been to India before and expect to be profoundly impacted by the experience. I will keep a diary while there and try to do a report afterward that does the trip justice.

Fall began today and here in Maine it is turning cold at night. My garden plants are turning yellow and the tree leaves are just changing. We will miss most of the fall colors while in hot India so I must try to enjoy it now while I can. During my 30 years in Florida I always longed to be in the north at this time of year. People told me when we left Florida: "You'll never make it in Maine after living in Florida for all this time. Your blood is too thin now. You'll be back." Well, dear friends I seem to be holding on so far. Maine is quite special. Ya'll come visit us in the fall - or winter. You’ll love it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


  Posted by PicasaCongress has appropriated more than $304 billion for U.S. military operations in Iraq. Simply stated in monetary terms, we are spending $8.5 billion per month in Iraq with no end in sight. That's $2 billion per week, or $267 million per day, or $11 million per hour.

George W. Bush says he will not be bringing the troops home during his tenure in office. I believe him when he says that.

How then can we end this war and occupation of Iraq?

The simple reality is that the war goes on as long as Congress continues to appropriate funds for it. Cut the funding and you force Bush to bring the troops home.

Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) has introduced HR 4232 that calls for the cut-off in funds for the war. Click on the link in the headline above to hear for yourself what Rep. McGovern has to say about his effort in Washington.

Politicians can talk all day long about how they are opposed to the war. But if they keep voting for the war funding then they are complicit in this madness. Self respecting peace activists, who spend their lives working to end war, should not then turn around and vote for elected officials who won't sign onto HR 4232.

HR 4232 would in no way prohibit nor interrupt U.S. non-defense funding in support of Iraq's social and economic reconstruction, including support for democratic institution-building, elections, and the restoration of Iraq's infrastructure.

Last night on the evening news I heard it reported that in recent weeks 20,000 more U.S. troops had been sent to Iraq. So the trend line is now in escalation, not withdrawal.

You want the war to end? Pressure your Congressional delegation to vote to cut the funds. Time to fish or cut bait.

Monday, September 18, 2006


  Posted by PicasaJust days ago the Pope made a reference in a speech that claimed the Moslem religion was evil and violent. Now, predictably, protests all across the Moslem world have erupted. Some of these have turned violent as the collective Muslim rage over years of being tongue-lashed, added to by the treatment of the Palestinians, the Iraqi war, and now the pending U.S. attack on Iran, overflow into an out-of-control frustration.

This is just what the Bush team wants. Tonight on the news the religious leader of Iran condemned the Pope's words and the media was sure to show the American people one more image of the "crazy" Iranians verses the loving Christians. The Holy War is on. Or as many in the media are now saying, the Clash of Civilizations is well underway.

I've not liked this new Pope from the start. From his first days he has shown strong allegiance to right-wing policies. I can’t help but wonder if this "conservative" Pope made his provocative statement knowing that there would be a massive reaction? Then his tepid "not quite" apologies have only made the Moslem world even angrier.

It would take a fool to believe the Pope didn’t have a chance to think about the impact of his words before giving the speech. Likely he uses a speechwriter so it is my belief this was a very calculated move to incite the Moslem world.

I find myself wondering if the Pope is coordinating strategy with Bush? The timing is just too perfect as we heard tonight on TV one of the retired generals on CNN saying that Bush will soon attack Iran. Indeed, he said, the U.S. military is already operating inside of Iran as Seymour Hersch at the New Yorker has already reported. After all, we can't let these crazy people have the nuclear bomb.

Let there be no doubt that the corporate globalists and empire builders have now made the decision to create endless war in the entire Middle East region.

A wider war in the region ensures that the U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will never come home and that the battle for control of Iran's oil will be the next front.

The Pope has shown his complicity in this war scheme. He is helping to fan the flames of hatred. What kind of religious leader is he? The Pope calls into question his commitment to Jesus - the prince of peace.

In the end what is the difference between his kind of religion and the “violent evil” that he infers the Moslem religion to be?

Saturday, September 16, 2006


  Posted by PicasaI am now in my fifth day of fasting against the war in Iraq. We have a large group of folks in our town of Brunswick who have joined the fast, and others around the state as well are participating. Each weekday for an hour at noon we have been gathering downtown on the green to hold signs and hand out flyers calling for Congress to cut the funding for the war. It's been a wonderful community building exercise for our local peace group called PeaceWorks.

Today 60 of us went to Bath Iron Works (BIW), 10-miles north of here, where the latest Aegis destroyer is being "christened." We object to the reference of Christ's blessing for the war ship. The ship is being deployed throughout the Asian-Pacific region surrounding China, which will provoke them to build more nuclear missiles. Today China has only 20 nukes capable of hitting the west coast of the U.S. We have well over 7,500 in our own nuclear arsenal of hypocrisy. What makes the Aegis even worse is that they are being outfitted with Theater Missile Defense (TMD) systems that will be used to knockout China's missiles that they would launch after we "preemptively" attack them.

With the U.S. now being one of China's best customers in the world today they are not likely to want to start a nuclear war with us. But China knows that the Space Command has been war-gaming a first-strike attack on them for the past few years. Set in the year 2016 the war game envisions a preemptive attack on China with U.S. space-based "assets" like the new military space plane and more.

While standing just across from the main gate today at BIW we watched hundreds of Navy personnel and BIW workers file into the plant for the ceremony. Many of Maine's leading politicians were also inside to give their blessing. Early on I moved across the street to be closer to the gate though I was still on the sidewalk and thus still on public right-of-way. Very quickly a plain-clothed policeman approached me from the city of Bath who began to get in my face and threaten me with arrest if I did not move back to the other side of the street. I tried to talk to him but he would not stop haranguing me. Finally I got my chance and told him that I knew I had the legal right to be there and that I had stood in the very same spot during other such protests at BIW, and even had pictures to boot! So if he wanted to arrest me then I'd see him in court and I was sure I would win the case. I have had cops run this game on me many times over the years. I knew what my rights were. I was not going to be intimidated. I’ve already been discharged from the U.S. military and don’t have to take “orders” anymore.

Very soon after Dexter Kamilewicz came and joined me. Dexter is running for Congress here in Maine. His son was in Iraq for 11 months and is now home but suffering from depression and other medical problems after being blown up three times by IED’s in Ramadi. Mary Beth Sullivan then got about 25 other people in our group to move over with us making it clear that the Bath cops would now have to arrest them as well. Then our lawyer from the National Lawyers Guild came over and talked to the cop who had the bad attitude and I turned back to protesting. I, nor anyone else, got arrested.

The photo above is of members of the Japanese peace movement protesting deployment of Aegis destroyers in their ports. The Japanese peace movement understands just how provocative these ships are and how they will drive a new arms race in their part of the world. It is crucial for us to support them.

In the end we need to convert places like BIW and have them build mass transit systems, solar, and windmills. Let's use our tax dollars for a good purpose for once. But that will only happen if we keep calling for this new industrial policy over and over again.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


  Posted by PicasaBy Karl Grossman

For years NASA insisted it couldn’t be done. Beyond the orbit of Mars, NASA said, solar energy could not be used to generate electricity for onboard power on space devices.

So the agency used the extremely dangerous nuclear substance, plutonium, as fuel in electric generating systems—and people on Earth were put at great risk in the event of an accident.

For instance, in 1997 NASA launched its Cassini plutonium-fueled space probe and in 1999 had Cassini hurtle back at Earth in a “slingshot maneuver” to increase its velocity so it could get to Saturn. If there was what NASA called an “inadvertent reentry” of Cassini into the Earth’s atmosphere during the “slingshot maneuver” just a few hundred miles up, it would disintegrate and “5 billion…of the world population…could receive 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure,” NASA admitted in its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission.

The death toll from a Cassini accident was put by Dr. Ernest Sternglass, professor emeritus of radiological physics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, at 20 million to 40 million.

And this is not a sky-is-falling story. Of 28 U.S. space missions using plutonium,
there have been three accidents, the worst in 1964 in which a plutonium-powered satellite fell back to Earth, breaking up and spreading the toxic radioactive substance widely.

That caused NASA to develop solar power for satellites—and today all satellites (and the International Space Station) are energized by solar panels. But, insisted NASA, in deep space sunlight is too weak and solar energy could not work, only plutonium would.

Now the leading space industry trade magazine, Aviation Week & Space Technology, reveals that solar energy is to be used by NASA to substitute for nuclear power in deep space. The July 17th article began: “Budget and technical realities have led NASA to put its once-ambitious space nuclear power plans on a slow track, but development in solar power generation should allow new scientific probes beyond Mars to operate without nuclear energy. The U.S. space agency is already planning a solar-powered mission to study the atmosphere of Jupiter, and has looked at sending probes as deep into space as Neptune using only the Sun’s energy for spacecraft and instrument power…It is all but certain the next U.S. deep-space missions will be solar-powered.”

The piece went on describe the new giant solar energy systems that will be used to harvest solar energy at record efficiencies vast distances from the Sun.

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, comments that “for years NASA said that the Global Network didn't know what we were talking about when it came to solar power working in deep space. Now NASA is planning to do what we've been saying all along they could do. It just goes to show that our protests have been right on the money and have pushed them in this direction more than anyone realizes.”

“Our next step is to shut down the entire space nuclear power program for good and press on with our efforts to keep weapons out of space,” said Gagnon. “This admission by NASA that solar will work in deep space is a victory for all of our supporters around the world who have been resisting the launch of nuclear power in space for the past 20 years. It just goes to show that if you are willing to stay on top of an issue for a long time that something good can come from your hard work."

Jeremy Maxand, executive director of Idaho’s nuclear watchdog, the Snake River Alliance, that has been challenging the U.S. Department of Energy’s plan to use Idaho National Laboratory to produce plutonium, says, “It’s good to see plutonium space batteries following in the steps of the now demoted planet Pluto. We've said since day one that plutonium is unnecessary and dangerous, and that we can do the same job a better way, and now we're seeing what that better way is—solar."

What’s going to happen now concerning plutonium production at Idaho National Laboratory? Probably, DOE will claim, what with the space function downgraded, it’s important to continue another use—a so-called “national security” use—of the especially nasty isotope of plutonium, Plutonium-238, to be fabricated at the facility.

What DOE is referring to is the use of plutonium in surveillance devices the U.S. has through the decades left in far-flung areas of the world.

Here, too, solar panels could harvest the needed energy safely. And, post-9/11, scattering plutonium-fueled surveillance devices around the planet is asking for it. All it would take is “a terrorist with a Phillips head screwdriver” to take plutonium from one of these devices and fabricate a super-dirty bomb, as Maxand has pointed out.

As to the safety record of these systems, most of it is hidden in secrecy but an illuminating book, just-published, is An Eye at the Top of the World by Pete Takeda (Thunder’s Mouth Press). It reports on how the CIA installed a plutonium-powered surveillance device in the mid-1960s in the Himalayas, which was subsequently swept away by an avalanche. The device fell and sunk into a glacier and was lost.

The plutonium it contained is now “moving ever closer to the source of the Ganges River”—a sacred river for a billion people.

We don’t need plutonium in space, at Idaho National Laboratory, spreading into the Ganges—or any place on Earth.

And, as in space, so should it go on the Earth below.

Maxand notes: “The window of opportunity to fool the public into going nuclear, in energy and space travel, is quickly closing. While DOE and big nuke contractors like Lockheed Martin are rushing to secure funding and policy to keep nuclear around, alternative energy developers are running laps around the nuke industry.”

We don’t need to take the enormous risk of atomic energy. The Bush administration and nuclear industry’s plans for a “revival” of nuclear power must be stopped. There’s no need to have atomic power plants—or nuclear poisons over our heads. Safe energy technologies are here.

- Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, is the author of The Wrong Stuff (Common Courage Press) and narrator of the TV documentary Nukes In Space (

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


  Posted by PicasaThe military is saying they should test new microwave-weapons against people in the U.S. in "real world situations" before they use them on people overseas.

Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions in the international community over any possible safety concerns, says Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne.

"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne. "(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."

The new weapons, being developed at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, N.M., would fire a microwave beam, which is supposed to heat skin and to cause pain but no physical damage. The "Active Denial System" beam causes pain within 2-3 seconds and it becomes intolerable after less than 5 seconds. People’s reflex responses to the pain are expected to force them to move out of the beam before the skin can be burnt.

But in an interview in the New Scientist, Neil Davison, coordinator of the non-lethal weapons research project at the University of Bradford in the UK, said controlling the amount of radiation received may not be that simple. "How do you ensure that the dose doesn't cross the threshold for permanent damage?" he asks. "What happens if someone in a crowd is unable, for whatever reason, to move away from the beam? Does the weapon cut out to prevent overexposure?"

The answer is NO. The U.S. military has already been testing and using these systems in Iraq on civilians. Reports already indicate that these weapons basically fry people to death. The reason the Air Force is now saying they should be fair, and use them first in the U.S., is pure propaganda.

I am now convinced, more than ever, that the Bush pirate crew is going to pull another 9-11 before the November elections. I think they are going to declare martial law. Then when the public hits the streets in protest, they are going to trot out these "active denial" microwave weapons for crowd control. And if anyone stands around too long they will be killed, just like is happening today in Iraq.

They will use these weapons in order to "dissuade" the American people from thinking that we can non-violently protest to save our country from fascism. They are then hoping that activists will either give up and go home, or turn violent and then the military will be given the go-ahead to take people out - just like we see them doing in Iraq today.

The clamp down is coming. Folks had better come alive now before it is too late. The Bush team has decided that they do not intend to give up power. They are going to make a play for total control of the oil in the Middle East and Central Asia and will not be slowed down by elections.

There is too much money to be made by controlling the world's oil and by having endless war. Profits of the oil corporations and weapons industry have gone through the roof since 2001. They are not about to return to business as usual - back to the days prior to 9-11.

I hope my prediction on this is wrong. But from where I sit all the strands are coming together. Who would seriously doubt that at some point Bush/Cheney, who obviously do not believe in democracy, would not play their cards out all the way?

Sunday, September 10, 2006


  Posted by PicasaOur local Brunswick-based peace group, PeaceWorks, begins our 10-day fast at noon on Monday with a vigil at our downtown green. We purchased a full-page advertisement in our local newspaper last Friday with 125 signatures on it inviting the community to join our "Fast to Bring the Troops Home Now." The advert also asks the public to Call on Congress to Cut the Funding for the Occupation of Iraq, No War on Iran and to Promote Justice Globally.

Each weekday from September 11-21 we will gather on the green at noon for an hour to hold signs, pass out leaflets, and share with each other about the fast. Some will fast for a day, others for longer, and a few of us the whole time. I've never fasted for more than three-days in my life so a 10-day fast will be a new experience for me.

While I was in Washington DC yesterday, speaking at Camp Democracy, I was touched by the father of Alex Arredondo who had set up the elaborate display in the photo above in honor of his son who was killed last year in Iraq. He called it Camp Alex. I could see in his busy energy, as he put the site together, his need to keep moving as a way to deal with his enormous pain and anger of his family's loss. We talked for a while and he told me that Alex's death has broken his whole family apart. At a time when family needs each other the most, the tragic loss had sent a lightening rod of division right through their family. We've heard similar stories of other families being torn apart as a result of this war.

In today's media we hear the story about Dick Cheney saying that those who oppose the war are aiding the "enemy". Cheney says U.S. allies in Afghanistan and Iraq "have doubts" America will finish the job there. "And those doubts are encouraged, obviously, when they see the kind of debate that we've had in the United States," he said. "Suggestions, for example, that we should withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, simply feed into that whole notion, validates the strategy of the terrorists."

Cheney is also sending a lightening bolt through the heart of the American people and doing his best to divide us from one another.

Talk like this from Cheney, and seeing the mourning eyes of Alex's father yesterday, make me more determined than ever to do more to end this war. We all live inside of a box of sorts. We all have our political boundaries - we only do so much, we only go so far in our anti-war work. As Ray McGovern said yesterday at Camp Democracy, not enough of us are "sticking our necks out" to end the occupation of Iraq. Necks, McGovern said, are useful to hold our heads up. But necks are not worthy of being worshipped and if we are unwilling to take some actions that for us are new and risky behavior, then we have begun to idolize our necks.

I know the fast won't change things in and of itself. I am not that naive. But I do think that the idea of going beyond our normal personal barriers is a good example for us all to set. We need to show our families, our communities, and ourselves that we are serious about ending this madness both in Iraq and here at home.

Friday, September 08, 2006


  Posted by PicasaI am going kayaking with my friend Bob Lezer this morning. We've been talking lately about going but our lives always seem too busy. It should be beautiful to be out in the bay this morning, a bit foggy, which will only make it more appealing.

I head to Washington DC late this afternoon so I can speak at Camp Democracy at mid-day on Saturday. I will be talking about the necessity of converting the military industrial complex.

The idea of Camp Democracy is a very exciting one as we now see legions of American people figuring out that the war in Iraq is a disaster. Average people have now become certain that the $8.5 billion a month is a huge waste of our diminishing national treasury. They understand that health care, childcare, mass transit, education, and more could be funded with the money being wasted on this war. Yes it is true that the war is very profitable for oil corporations, weapons corporations, and certain politicians who get nice donations from these big industries. But for the rest of us it is nothing but a losing proposition.

And for the people of Iraq it is nothing but endless chaos. The Washington Post reports today that, "Baghdad's morgue almost tripled its count for violent deaths in Iraq's capital during August from 550 to 1,536, authorities said Thursday, appearing to erase most of what U.S. generals and Iraqi leaders had touted as evidence of progress in a major security operation to restore order in the capital."

Bush is out running around the country trying to scare up votes for the November elections but even rank-and-file Repubs are turning on him. I saw an interview with a retired Marine officer last night on TV who lives in North Carolina and voted twice for Bush. He says now that he can't watch him on TV - he has to turn it off. (I can relate to the feeling.) So the Bush story is wearing thin.

Great opportunity you say for the Dems!!!!!

Well, also last night on TV, I watched John Kerry interviewed on Hardball and this is what he said. I'm paraphrasing here - We are not going to cut and run. We are going to redeploy into safer territory (Kuwait and highly defended permanent bases inside Iraq). The U.S. would use "over the horizon forces" (Air Force and Special Forces) to maintain control of Iraq working in conjunction with the Iraq government (our puppets).

Bottom line this is the Murtha plan. It does not mean an end to the war in Iraq. It does not mean an end to the violence. It does not mean defund the Iraq war. It is just a Democratic party shell game to create the illusion that we are pulling out while in fact it means we are just "pulling back", reducing the numbers of troops on the street getting hit with IED's, but the war goes on otherwise.

It is my hope that events like Camp Democracy and other anti-war actions will help to clarify this shell game for those who are now entering the peace movement. It would be a shame if folks fell for this pull back - thinking it was an end to the occupation of Iraq.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


  Posted by PicasaIf we want Bush gone
we’re going to have to build a movement.
A movement not just opposed to one man
but to a whole way of thinking
and acting
around this world.
A way of thinking and acting that says America
is the chosen nation.
That we are an exceptional people who cherish life more
than those people do.
That we are better than the rest of the world.
Can we change?

If we want Bush gone then we have to cleanse our souls,
wash away the violence of our arrogance
and our militarism that says we can have nukes
and planes
and tanks
and Star Wars
and murderous Special Forces.
But you can’t, unless you agree to do as we say,
unless you become our client state
like Israel, Japan, and Saudia Arabia have become.

If we want Bush gone then we can’t just replace him with
more of the same.
Hacks like Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden
or Wesley Clark or John Kerry or Al Gore
or some other compromised Democrat
who will say “I’ll do a better job of killing terrorists than
George Bush will” or
who will say “If you elect me then I’ll spend $100 billion
more on the military than Bush will” as John Kerry said
in the last presidential debates where the timber was not tall.

If we really want Bush gone we have to build an independent
political movement that can be critical of all parties,
and all corporate dominated politicians,
and all the corporate dominated media,
and all the court jesters – not just the Repubs.
We’ll need an independent movement that can stand with the people,
through thick and thin.
Through good times and bad.

If we really want Bush gone then we have to be able to sustain
our movement over multiple generations because this corporate
dominated government that we have today is not going to go down easy.
This is going to be a long, hard fight.

How bad do you really want Bush gone?

Can we get real?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


  Posted by PicasaI hear a lot of talk about the economy slowing and people worrying about the future. And they should be worried. You can't outsource all your good jobs and have a functioning society based on hamburger flippers.

Now do you imagine that politicians in Washington DC, in their heart-of-hearts, know that we are in for a rough ride? Of course they know it. And what are they telling us? Not much.

For instance, how can so-called progressive politicians keep voting to fund the war and then tell us they want to make sure we have social programs in this country? How can we spend over $300 billion for the war and occupation of Iraq and still afford money for education, mass transit, roads and bridges repair, health care, cleaning up the environment and all the rest. It's a flat impossibility. But I hear these "leaders" say we can do it.

The amazing thing is that people still believe this nonsense. I see people, who generally are well read and know what is going on, fall for this line that you can keep funding a war and still have social progress. The reason they fall for the lie is simple. Only one word is necessary to explain this phenomenon. Democrats. There is a breed of people out there who want Democrats back in power so badly that they will suspend all common sense just to see them return to power. Then, these people think, life will return to normal, they can go back to playing tennis again, and leave the worries to a newly elected Congress, controlled by the Democrats. The Dems will then end all the wars, bring the jobs back home, and rebuild our nation to its glorious days of old. It goes something like that anyway.

The problem is that this is an illusion. The Democrats will not end the occupation of Iraq. They will keep our permanent bases there because they are building empire; most of these politicians are working for the corporations these days.

They are not going to bring our jobs back home because these same corporations are maximizing their profits by moving jobs overseas. The only jobs that we are going to see in our communities are the ones in the military industrial complex. And when it comes to those kinds of jobs Dems and Repubs are working together to bring that pork home.

As much as the American voters talks about being fed up with things, with being disillusioned with politics as usual, the fact is that most voters still hang onto a thread of believing the system is going to change. This shell game is fed to the public by the corporate dominated media. I was at a party the other day and someone, right on cue, asks who is going to be the Democratic Party presidential nominee in 2008? The question was really one more sign of this "hanging onto hope" mentality that the right Democrat is going to come into office and save us. Ain't gonna happen!

People want to believe in the Democrats because they can't bear the alternative possibility. If it is true that the Dems aren't gonna save us, then who will? And that is what folks don't want to think about. The middle class dream has folks locked up in a self-imposed prison that keeps them from acting. They don't want to publicly get branded as an activist. It might look bad as one searches for a job in this declining job market. Better to keep our mouths shut and rely on the Democrats to save us. If we just keep believing strongly enough, maybe it will happen.

It is like waiting for Godot. He ain’t coming. Godot does not exist.

Wake up before it is all gone. Look into your children's eyes and repeat after me. Godot does not exist. Godot does not exist.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


  Posted by PicasaSometimes I get really frightened when I think about how deeply ingrained violence is in our culture in this country. I know all about it. I grew up on military bases as a kid and went to the air shows. I had a big-framed photo on my wall of all the planes on our base - my step-dad worked in the base photo lab. I carried that photo from base to base as I grew up. It was on the wall right next to the crucifix. When Nixon in 1968 ran for president I worked on his campaign. I was true blue for sure. And I believed in the war machine. Never thought twice about it. My time in the military during the Vietnam war changed all that for me. My world got turned up-side down.

But today I fear it is getting worse. The militarists know that because of corporate globalization we are not going to have many jobs in the U.S. anymore. Our chief export product will be "security" the Pentagon says. That translates to endless war.

Last Friday we were vigiling on the street here in Brunswick as we do each week. A young man drove up and stopped and showed me his military cap and said I love the war. I asked him why. He said, "I have a job."

That was a profound moment for me. In his sincere words I heard him say that he had a purpose in life. He had a job. He had something that was meaningful to him. He is saving the world for democracy and all that other good stuff. He was right next to Superman.

A friend just sent me an article about a new "Christian" inspired video game for kids. It goes like this: "Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is ‘to conduct physical and spiritual warfare’; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice." (Click on the link in headline above for more of this madness.)

I fear to say out loud what I think is going on. I fear that the militarists are now moving to create chaos and "civil war", Iraqi style, right here in the good old USA. I fear that as our economy now collapses, and during the next 20 years we turn into a Third World country, that those in power don't want the public turning toward the real enemy. They don't want the public to figure out that the rich and the corporations have screwed us all royally. So they are preparing the younger generation to see the enemy as non-Christians, immigrants, people of color, political activists, and the like.

As our economy declines because of corporate globalization our education system will continue to falter. Pressure to "privatize" the public school system will grow as people become frustrated with declining funding for our schools. As the local tax base dries up, due to jobs moving overseas, education will only be for the rich. Thus young working class/poor kids will while away their time playing more and more violent video games and increasingly become disconnected from society and all that is good. They become perfect candidates for the rage mongers, haters, and military recruiters. And they become easy targets of the "Christian right-wing thugs", the new brown shirt fascists of our day whose job it will be to create chaos in our land.

So what is the solution to all this darkness? First, I think we must see the signs. Or as the Indians always said, put your ear to the tracks and hear the train coming. The white man has a killer culture.

Then we have to openly talk about and expose these mad men who are literally poisoning the minds of our children and grandchildren.

We need to speak out publicly against this. We must complain when our local newspapers do feature stories about the new "exciting" violent video games like this one linked above.

Lastly, we need to recognize that the Christian fundamentalist community is becoming a perverse version of the "radical Islamist fundamentalist fascists" that Bush keeps talking about. Look in the mirror America; we are becoming what we say we fear the most.

Friday, September 01, 2006


  Posted by PicasaI traveled to Kodiak Island in Alaska a couple years ago at the invitation of local activists who were opposing the development of a launch site on their pristine island. On the couple hour drive to the launch site, on a far-flung part of the island that was known for the best beach, my hosts showed me large nests of bald eagles and salmon swelled rivers. They told me about the Kodiak bear and the native Alaskan villages that would be within range of any rocket that went haywire after any aborted launch.

While there I spoke at the local high school one evening to about 60 people who turned out, including the mayor of Kodiak. They had been promised that the launch facility would have nothing to do with the military. All launches from Kodiak would be innocent civilian launches of friendly satellites to help us get better cable TV and the like. Is this true they asked me? Would the government lie to us?

As it turns out there has yet to be a civilian launch from Kodiak. All launches so far have been tests for the Pentagon's Star Wars system. The very first launch had to be aborted as it went bad right after lift-off and plunged into the clean waters of the ocean - where some of the very best salmon fishing in the world is located.

Yesterday there was supposed to be another "missile defense" launch at Kodiak. The $85 million test would be practicing having one missile intercept another in space. The launch was scrubbed because of bad weather. The military will try again today or on Saturday.

New launch centers are now being built in New Mexico and recently I heard from activists in Nova Scotia who said one is being contemplated there. The taxpayers in those places are being asked to pay to construct the pads and they are promised that the launch facilities will only be used for civilian purposes. Activists in those places ask me, do you think it's true? Do you think this launch site will have anything to do with the military? Do you think they would lie to us?

My answer is always the same. Ask the Indians if our government would lie.