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

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


You must click on the link in the headline above and watch this very sick video of U.S. troops in Iraq getting their jollies off by making little kids chase after their speeding truck for a bottle of water. The GI's, who we are told in this country are heroes, are sick *##+*#+*#*#'s !!!

Is it any wonder people around the world hate us the way they do? Unfortunately few Americans see this kind of stuff and when they do they say "Well it is just a few of the GI's that act this way." I wish that were true.

The media is all a jabber these days about civil war in Iraq. Is there one or not? Bush and company say no. NBC News says yes. Good of them to figure it out at last. Bush says he is not bringing the troops home during the rest of his time in office. The Dems, who were saying troops out by the end of 2007 are now slipping in a second year, 2008, into their plan for a phased withdrawal. Big surprise there.

People should be asking the Democrats two basic questions now.

1) What is the mission in Iraq today?

2) When would you propose it would be accomplished?

Watch them squirm (to twist about like a worm: wriggle) on that one.

Over 3,000 Iraqi people are leaving the country each day now as refugees. They carry nothing with them. They face an uncertain future with no hope. If they stay in Iraq their future is even worse.

Dick Cheney just went to Saudia Arabia to ask them to "use its influence to help foster reconciliation in Iraq." Saudia Arabia, like the U.S., has no influence in Iraq today. Nor does Bush's puppet government hiding behind U.S. troops in the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad.

The Democrats are similarly hiding from this issue because they have no influence either in Washington. They have none because they are not willing to get off their knees and open their mouths to King George II. Thus we will keep wasting $8.5 billion a month on the occupation.

Talking reason and logic to the Democrats is a waste of time. They have no courage to listen to logic and no guts to listen to reason or moral appeals. The only tool to use on the Democrats from now on is shame and ridicule (the act of exposing to laughter: derision: to laugh at or make fun of mockingly or contemptously).

The politicians in Washington should be made to watch the video linked above. Then they should be made to pass out water to the starving children on the streets of Iraq.

Monday, November 27, 2006


The U.S. has announced that it will install so-called "theatre missile defense" (TMD) systems on Navy Aegis warships now deployed in Japan's Yokosuka base. Also called "boost-phase defense" systems, the job of these missiles would be to get close to North Korea and China in order to give the U.S. the ability to knock out any nukes launched from those countries soon after they have been launched.

The testing program for these TMD systems (also called Standard Missile-3) has been going fairly well for the Navy, as it is much easier to hit a missile soon after it has been launched. They are easy to spot as the flames shoot out of the rocket, they are relatively slow as they lift-off from the ground, and the Aegis warships would be right along the coastline and able to be much closer to the missiles.

The military's other "missile defense" program is called "National Missile Defense" which would wait until a nuke got way up into deep space before it would try to have a bullet hit a bullet at 15,000 m.p.h. This program has been the one with the glaring test failures and could also be easily overwhelmed with decoys and multiple warhead missiles.

The Aegis destroyers used by the Navy for the TMD program are made in Bath, Maine. The Republican and Democratic Party politicians of this state are slaves to the General Dynamics Corporation, which builds the ships. Each ship costs taxpayers over $1 billion.

Bath Iron Works [BIW], Maine's largest private employer, was purchased by General Dynamics in September 1995. Bath had run into financial trouble and become the property of Prudential Insurance Co. of America when debt payments could no longer be made. General Dynamics picked up the yard for half what Prudential paid for it.

We are told that the Aegis ships are being outfitted with TMD systems to protect Japan from a nuclear attack by North Korea. Not true!

The reality is that the U.S. is using the Aegis to surround the coastal region of China and intends to negate China's current nuclear weapons force of 20 missiles that are capable of hitting the continental U.S.

By making this move the U.S. will force China to build more nuclear weapons or face loosing their existing nuclear deterrent force in a first-strike attack. For the past few years the U.S. has been war-gaming a first-strike attack on China, set in the year 2016. After seeing what the U.S. has done in Iraq, and knowing that the U.S. is now doubling its military presence in the Asian-Pacific region, China can't afford to take any chances. Thus off we go to a new arms race in the region. The weapons industry would benefit for sure.

On May 26, 2000 the Washington Post ran a story entitled, For Pentagon, Asia Moving to Forefront. The article made the case for the U.S. to "manage" China by militarily controlling the region and being able to prevail in a war with China. Here is some of the language from the article:

The Joint Chiefs' wrestling with how to think about China--and how open to be about that effort--captures in a nutshell the U.S. military's quiet shift away from its traditional focus on Europe. Cautiously but steadily, the Pentagon is looking at Asia as the most likely arena for future military conflict, or at least competition.

The new U.S. military interest in Asia also reverses a Cold War trend under which the Pentagon once planned by the year 2000 to have just "a minimal military presence" in Japan, recalls retired Army Gen. Robert W. RisCassi, a former U.S. commander in South Korea.

The U.S. military's favorite way of testing its assumptions and ideas is to run a war game. Increasingly, the major games played by the Pentagon--except for the Army--take place in Asia, on an arc from Tehran to Tokyo. The games are used to ask how the U.S. military might respond to some of the biggest questions it faces: Will Iran go nuclear--or become more aggressive with an array of hard-to-stop cruise missiles? Will Pakistan and India engage in nuclear war--or, perhaps even worse, will Pakistan break up, with its nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Afghan mujaheddin? Will Indonesia fall apart? Will North Korea collapse peacefully? And what may be the biggest question of all: Will the United States and China avoid military confrontation? All in all, estimates one Pentagon official, about two-thirds of the forward-looking games staged by the Pentagon over the last eight years have taken place partly or wholly in Asia.

The Japanese peace movement clearly understands what is at stake here with these upgrades to the Aegis system. They fear growing instability in the region will ultimately lead to a war. They regularly protest the Aegis warships at Yokosuka Naval base. They seek the support of the peace movement in the U.S.

In the state of Maine it is just a few activists who are concerned about the Aegis and those who do protest against Aegis rarely ever talk about the role of TMD and Aegis. Instead the activists talk about the cruise missiles on-board the Aegis (which are nuclear capable). While it is important to inform people about the cruise missiles, they are first-strike weapons, it is also crucial to begin to educate the activist community and the public at large about the expanded provocative role that Aegis is now playing in the overall U.S. aggressive military strategy in the region.

The ultimate solution is to begin to call for conversion of places like BIW. We must show the public, who are primarily concerned about jobs, that by converting shipyards like BIW we will be able to create many times more jobs with the money that is now wasted down the military rat hole. By creating a constituency for conversion we also begin to reduce the support for the dangerous and aggressive U.S. military schemes in the Asian-Pacific region.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Big plans are now underway in our household. Mary Beth and I have put our house up for sale. Our friend Karen Wainberg (on right in photo) from Portland has put her house on the market. We've found a house in the nearby town of Bath and we hope to be able to purchase it soon.

We plan on creating an intentional community.

Over the years as I have traveled I've visited several Catholic Worker houses around the country. Each are a bit different. Some feed the poor and others have large gardens. Still others specialize on local organizing and taking in a family from time to time that needs temporary shelter.

Mary Beth and I have been talking for a long time about living in such a community but the opportunity had never emerged. Then about a year ago we began talking with Karen about such a life.

We started talking about the way we live in isolation from each other. My Italian mother's family lived multi-generationally and I always loved visiting them in between our moves from one military base to another when I was young. It was exciting to feel connected to a much larger community. I've never liked the isolation of the nuclear family. "Nuclear" family is a phrase that to me represents blowing up the extended family for the present system of "every man for himself" way of living.

The nuclear family is not a sustainable way to live. Each small family unit must have their own lawn mower, vacuum, washer/dryer, cars, TV's, and on and on. By living together we learn to use less by sharing more. I think our present economic system has largely been built by fostering this notion of "individuality" in the way we live - alone and heavy consumers.

It's also not sustainable to be emotionally remote from each other.

By sharing our energies and resources in community we also lessen our need to make as much money freeing each of us up just a bit to have more time to do service work in our community at a pace that does not burn us all out.

One other vision we have for our intentional community will be to invite others, not directly living with us, to still be a part of the community. By holding regular suppers and sharing circles we will explore with each other questions like these: What does community mean to us? How can we act together to build our community and have an impact on the wider world? How do we have conversion of the military industrial complex without conversion in our own lives? How do we expand our commitment to work for change? How do we share our bounty with those who have much less? How do we live as a community more gently on the Earth? You get the drift.

For me it is all about trying to integrate my broader vision of a sustainable society into my everyday way of living. I want it all. I want a feeling of community all the time - not just when I go to a retreat or a wonderful potluck supper. I want to ride my bike and a train instead of my car. I want to see military production facilities converted so they can build the trains. I want
to see people work closer together in order that we help each other through these hard and frustrating times - help each other through the isolation of the nuclear age.

For me being human means to be in a constant state of questioning and change. In a constant state of reevaluation of the way I am living and being open to new possibilities.

We are excited about our emerging new way of life.

Monday, November 20, 2006


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The Pentagon is going to need more troops as the U.S. is not likely to pull out of Iraq for another 5-10 years insiders are now predicting. Thus the boys inside the military are looking at innovative ways to reach younger people to get them emotionally committed early-on to a "life at war."

Click on the link in the headline above for a short bit from a recent episode of The Simpsons. Even though quite funny, it is also quite revealing.

All across the country recruiters are now throwing birthday parties for young elementary school kids by providing military tents and vehicles for the kiddies to crawl around on. Increasingly, as local school budgets are cut, military personnel are brought in to teach kids or even take classes out to training centers for extended "camps" where they run the kids through military exercises. This is usually being done under the guise of anti-drug programs or "behavior modification" programs.

In the 1930's Mussolini trained a whole generation of Italian boys in the ways of fascism by these methods. In Rome they had the Central Military School of Physical Education and the Fascist Academy of Physical Education. These two schools were the cornerstone of the fascist system of indoctrination - rather than education - of the youths. They recruited boys from the age of 6-18 for weekly meetings, where they practiced physical exercise, received paramilitary training and performed drills and parades.

A peace activist woman I know from Maine told me a story last week. She went to visit her grandchild who is in elementary school. She thought it would be fun to go out into nature and while playing she shared with her grandchild her feelings about the Iraq war. Her grandkid immediately snapped to attention and recited the pledge of alliegiance.

The way I see it is the "war on terror" is now being transformed into the war on Islam. And this war will have no end as the corporations and the Pentagon know that in order to control the oil in the Middle East and Central Asia the U.S. permanent bases in Iraq and Afghanistan must remain open. And they must be expanded into Iran, maybe Syria, and more.

All of this will require several more generations of troops. On the homefront the powers that be know that a worsening economic situation will help steer working class kids into the military because they will have few other job options. But the best recruitment tool for the military is to create a greater war culture in the U.S. and that plan appears to me to now be well underway.

It is our job to see this developing and to stand in resistance to it at every turn. We must call America on its addiction to war and violence.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


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The Bush administration is preparing to submit a request to Congress for up to $160 billion to fund the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan for fiscal year 2007. This will be on top of $70 billion that Congress has already approved for 2007.

Since 2001, Congress has approved $502 billion for the war on “terror,” roughly two-thirds for Iraq.

The cost of the entire Vietnam War, in today’s dollars, was $536 billion.

The UK’s Guardian recently reported that Bush told senior advisers that the U.S. must make “a last big push” to win in Iraq and may increase U.S. military forces by as many as 20,000 soldiers.

In our recent national election, the people voted for a change in policy in Iraq. The message seems to have reached Washington and their answer to the public appears to be “Ok, we will change our policy. We will dramatically increase the amount of money we are spending on the war and we will send even more troops.”

Not quite what the 62% of Americans who oppose the war had in mind.

The net result of this new policy will likely be more violence in Iraq, more hostility toward U.S. troops, more casualties on all sides, and a deepening quagmire.

Another important result will be that the Democrats, who so far have been most willing to support ALL Bush’s funding requests for the occupation of Iraq, get locked in to the “new policy.”

Bush has long said that in his remaining time in office he will not bring the troops home. Thus the only way to end the costly and outrageous Iraq fiasco is to cut the funding for the occupation. This is ultimately how the Congress had to end the war in Vietnam.

Soldiers are now coming home from Iraq and not getting adequate treatment from the VA because of lack of funding. Cutbacks in social programs are now becoming the norm in the U.S. as we spend 50% of every tax dollar on the Pentagon budget.

Our nation’s number one industrial export product today is weapons. In 2006 the U.S. exported over $21 billion in weapons – up from $10.6 billion the previous year.

Studies have long shown that military spending is capital intensive. In other words, each million dollars spent on military production creates far fewer jobs than if the money were invested in any other kind of job creation effort, including building trains, solar panels or windmills.

America is now hemorrhaging jobs and our debt is over $8.6 trillion and growing by $2 billion a day. We’d better wake up quick and tell the Democrats that they must stop funding this war. It’s killing our country.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


And so it now begins.

This morning I got a mass email from Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) who is in line to chair the House Judiciary Committee. He is the one who has been leading the fight for years to investigate Bush/Cheney for impeachable offenses.

But a couple months ago, before the election, Nancy Pelosi began sending messages to the public. One of her declarations was that if the Dems took power that she might not honor the senority system to award committee chairmanships. Anyone who was paying attention knew that she was talking about Conyers.

Then she got even bolder, when just shortly before voting day, she said that impeachment was off the table. Ipso facto. No more discussion. The declaration was made. Forget all the obvious lies and constitutional violations of the Bush administration. The Democrats were pledging to go soft even before they took power.

In today's email Conyers acknowledges that he has fallen into line. Obviously, he got the message and if he wants to sit as chairman of the Judiciary Committee then he understands he has to play the game. Remember, the constitution is just a piece of paper anyway.

In his message Conyers says, "As many of you also know, I have agreed with Speaker-to-be Pelosi that impeachment is off the table. Instead, we agree that oversight, accountability and checks and balances – which have been sorely lacking for the last six years – must occur. I have nothing but respect for those who might disagree, but that is where I come out.......I am hopeful that I will be selected as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.........If I am selected as Chair, I believe it will place us in a position to make real and meaningful changes for the good of the American people."

I think the Conyers quote speaks for itself.

As if that wasn't enough, I then clicked on an article this morning from Mother Jones magazine called So You Want to Impeach? This piece strongly laid out the well-known case against the Bush pirate team and then ended with a final swift stroke, "Impeaching Bush alone, of course, would be of no use -- for Cheney, equally if not more culpable, is but another head of the same abominable Hydra. And there's the rub. Take away Bush, take away Cheney, and the line of succession would point to... President Nancy Pelosi. In order to replace a president who (for his many grievous sins) was popularly elected in a national election after the fiercest campaign in memory, we'd anoint a politician who hasn't faced serious opposition in two decades and was last elected by 225,000 true blue citizens... of San Francisco."

Are you still sitting in your chair? And Mother Jones is supposed to be a progressive publication. The Democrats and their sycophants are throwing the people who just put them into office the old brushback pitch. This one is aimed right at our heads. They are playing mind games with us. First they rev us up before the election to get us good and angry, then after they win they bring us down.

It's kind of like what the Republicans have done to their Christian base for years with issues like abortion, school prayer, and public display of the 10 commandments. Pander to them, fire them up, use them up, and then don't deliver on political promises. Both parties have this technique down to a fine art.

In the headline above is a link to one of the key groups now organizing impeachment campaigning in the U.S. We can't let the Dems off the hook. Hell, they are not even in power and they are already sending Bush signals that they are not going to hold him accountable! It's time for the people to speak out and put the heat on the weak-willed Democrats and the constitution-busting Republicans.

It's our country. The time for the people to take over has come.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


In June 2005, President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Singh signed a nuclear agreement that set the groundwork for the sharing of nuclear technology and fuel with India. By providing India with nuclear fuel under the agreement, the U.S. would free India’s domestic uranium deposits for use in production of more nuclear weapons. India is a known nuclear weapons state that conducted nuclear testing most recently in 1998, and has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a treaty controlling the spread of nuclear weapons and signed by 187 countries.

Before the deal can be finalized, Congress must amend the Atomic Energy Act to allow the U.S. to enable nuclear cooperation with India without requiring India to sign the NPT or give up production of nuclear bomb making materials. The House passed legislation on July 26, 2006 allowing the deal to proceed while the companion bill in the Senate has not been voted on. Maine Democratic Party Congressmen Tom Allen and Mike Michaud voted in favor of the House bill that passed by a margin of 359-68. Most progressive members of Congress voted against it. (Tom Allen has publicly stated that the U.S. must help India expand its nuclear industry in order to deal with global warming.)

Everywhere Mary Beth Sullivan and I went during our recent speaking tour in India our peace activist hosts were talking about this nuclear deal. While the U.S. is condemning North Korea and Iran for pursuing nuclear weapons, the White House is offering to supply India with nuclear fuel that would enable them to build as many as 30-40 more nukes a year. They could not understand why the American peace movement was not more aware of the bill that will dramatically increase nuclear tensions in Southern Asia, already a flashpoint for nuclear war as Pakistan and China will be forced to respond to India’s nuclear expansion. It became clearer to me that the U.S. intends to use India as a “military outpost” in its aggressive attempt to surround and “manage” China in the years ahead. The U.S. weapons industry is arming Pakistan and India, playing divide and conquer in the region, and making enormous profits in the process from the resulting arms race.

The New York Times, wrote on March 7, 2006, "The nuclear deal that Mr. Bush concluded with India threatens to blast a bomb-size loophole through the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It would have been bad enough on its own, and disastrously ill timed, because it undercuts some of the most powerful arguments Washington can make to try to galvanize international opposition to Iran's nuclear adventurism..."
On why nuclear cooperation was given precedence over all other bilateral issues, one Indian diplomat has said, "If the nuclear issue was not resolved, India's space, defence and high-technology industry would not get huge investments. No multinational will invest in India if U.S. laws do not permit it. That unresolved issue was poisoning the entire trade system between India and the U.S.! It was the roadblock to India's knowledge power."

"This nuclear bill is not about nuclear technology or about selling some US reactors to India," the diplomat said. "The U.S. is buying a relationship and in the process India's strategic interest is being served. It will also help the Indian economy to grow by 10 per cent."

When Congress comes back to Washington for the short lame duck session in January, the administration is pushing the Senate to take up the U.S.-India nuclear deal.

The U.S. should develop a consistent position on nuclear weapons. We should not help other countries develop nukes and we should honor the NPT and get rid of our own.
We should also not be spreading nuclear technology - civilian or military around the world. If India wants to increase their ability to provide electricity for their country, they should expand the development of solar power. India gets lots of sunshine.
Please use the link in the headline above to contact your senators in Washington right away and urge them to vote NO on the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Yesterday in Portland over 100 members and supporters of Maine Veterans for Peace (VfP)participated in the annual parade through the heart of town. For the past 15 years VfP has participated in the parade.

This year though the American Legion, that organizes the parade each year, tried to keep our VfP chapter out of the event, largely due to our active and intense opposition to the war and occupation of Iraq. The American Legion said that if VfP was participating they had been told by other pro-war American Legion chapters in the area that they would refuse to be in the parade.

Our VfP chapter went public through the local media with our intention to continue participation and a series of letters to the editor brought the debate to the larger community. Eventually the city of Portland had to get involved and through their intervention the American Legion had to back down.

As usual our VfP delegation, mostly dressed in black, was the largest contingent in the parade. The small American Legion delegations were mixed into the parade as they normally are each carrying flags and rifles and busting out of their old military uniforms that long ago did not fit them properly. Other less controversial entrants in the parade were high school marching bands, clowns, unicyclists, fire trucks, Army vehicles and the like.

Following the parade a dull and lifeless rally was held at Monument Square where politicians and a few pro-war vets spoke. Our just reelected Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) talked about his pride in our troops who are "protecting our interests" overseas. As he spoke our 100 strong VfP contingent stood just opposite him, many of the members having been active supporters of his opponent Dexter Kamilewicz, an Independent who got 22,689 votes for 8%, in last week's voting. Dexter stood with us, dressed in black as well, as a reminder that we would not let off with our pressure to bring the troops home now. Rep. Allen says he is against the war but has voted 7 times to the tune of $354 billion to enable Bush to build permanent bases in Iraq and keep this insane war going.

Following the official rally, after a 10-minute wait, VfP was given the podium for our own rally where Maine VfP President Doug Rawlings spoke. The local paper today reported that Doug said, "We are not here, as some of our detractors claim, to disrespect America. We're here in the name of decency and humanity....Let us leave here today with the understanding that war itself is evil." Not reported in the paper were Doug's words calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and a cut in funding for the war. (The photo above was also in the Sunday paper.)

Last night I read that the Bush administration is going to ask for a $160 billion supplemental to fund the war for the remainder of 2007. This would be the largest appropriation for the war to-date! It is clear that Bush is coming right out of the starting blocks and will call the Democrats bluff to see if they will take responsibility and help "manage" the war creating even more "bi-partisan" support for the occupation. From what we have heard so far from our congressman, and most of the Democratic party leadership, they would likely support such a request.

As we walked the length of the parade route yesterday we got an excellent reception from the crowd lined up along the street. It is clear that the people are tired of the war and are looking for a way out. Knowing this, the peace movement should feel emboldened to continue to escalate the pressure on Congress before even more lives are lost in Iraq.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Last night I took notes while watching the talking heads on the news programs. They were discussing what the Dems would/should do now that they control Congress.

It is clear to me that the American people are being prepared to lower their expectations now that the Dems will run the show in Congress. Here is a sampling:

* Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said that we must now "narrow the parameters of the debate" about Iraq. We should know in a year if a new policy is working in Iraq.

* Don Haass from the Council on Foreign Relations said there will be some troop reductions, that we will move troops out of Baghdad, sit our troops at the new permanent bases so that we have fewer casualties, guard Iraq's borders, and work on diplomacy more with Syria and Iran to get their help. The U.S. military role in Iraq would be "limited".

* Newly elected Sen. Claire McCaskell (D-MO) told Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball that she'd likely support John Bolton's nomination at the U.N. (which has still not been approved by the Senate) even though he has pledged to destroy the U.N. Luckily it was reported today that Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chaffe today said he would work to block the nomination. Sen. Chaffe, a real moderate, was defeated for reelection by a Democrat.

* Time Magazine's Jay Carney said the U.S. couldn’t leave Iraq because it would create "catastrophic chaos". We must get out "in a reasonable manner" he maintained.

* Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) who has authored the "redeployment" plan calling for U.S. troops to be moved to Kuwait, where we can bomb them from a distance and send Special Forces troops back into Iraq as needed, said there would be no cuts in Iraq war funding from the Democrats. He also said that the military now needs a lot of money to "resupply and retool" the Pentagon after they have had so much hardware destroyed in Iraq. I was once in Murtha's office years ago. He has all kinds of models of weapons systems displayed throughout his office. He is a true friend of the military industrial complex.

* My own “liberal” congressman, Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) was on the radio yesterday and he said as long as the troops are in Iraq he feels a "moral obligation" to continue to fund the occupation. He is calling for a phased withdrawal sometime in the next year and he also supports the Murtha redeployment plan. I read today that CNN's exit polls of Maine voters revealed that 65% of them opposed the Iraq war.

Bush's nomination of Robert Gates to replace Rumsfeld at the Pentagon must be strongly resisted by the peace movement. Click on the link above and see what former CIA veteran Ray McGovern has to say about Gates while he was at the CIA. McGovern says Gates was "the one most responsible for institutionalizing political corruption of intelligence analysis". He would fit right in with the current crowd in Washington.

So to me the early signs are that the Dems, despite the fact that they rode the peace movement momentum into power, intend to play ball with Bush and keep the Iraq occupation going. Most importantly, the Dems plan to keep the military production process alive and well in order to ensure the military empire is well equipped and active.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


  Posted by PicasaThe Washington Post reported this morning that the Democratic Party's "foreign policy establishment sees a precipitous withdrawal [from Iraq] as potentially damaging to both the country's and the party's interests."

The battle is on.

The new speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is saying that the Dems will govern "from the middle." Impeachment is not on the table she recently said.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), who led the effort on behalf of Democratic Party House candidates, is saying that they can't allow the party's liberal wing to dominate the agenda.

The changes in Congress are largely due to huge opposition (62%) to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Again, quoting today's Washington Post, "The passion of the antiwar movement helped propel party activists in this election year."

How will the peace movement in America, that just turned itself nearly completely over to the Democratic Party, be rewarded for its loyalty?

"Many Democratic lawmakers have signed on to a vague plan for a phased withdrawal from Iraq, but the party remains divided between a base eager to get out soon and a foreign policy establishment that sees a precipitous withdrawal as potentially damaging to both the country's and the party's interests," the Washington Post concludes.

Pelosi is already pointing to a "Bi-partisan study group" on Iraq that is co-chaired by Texas oilman, and former Republican secretary of state, James Baker. Don’t expect any surprises here.

Most of the new Democratic Party gains in the House were conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats who do not support immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Instead these new Dems, controlled by Bill Clinton's Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), will steer the country on a basic status quo course. Their excuse will be - - hey we have a national election in two years and we want to take back the White House. So we have to go slow now so we don't alienate the public.

My translation - the corporations will control the new Democratic Party Congress and we will see no real basic change.

So what does the peace movement do now?

We must continue to call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. We must call for a 50% cut in military spending and conversion of the military industrial complex. We must call for an end to Star Wars research and development funding which now stands at about $10 billion a year.

We must also call for investigations of Bush-Cheney for impeachable offenses. We must call for repeal of the Patriot Act and the recent Military Commissions Act - the torture bill.

We have to call out loudly and strongly for universal national health care and for new federal election laws that sets one national standard to ensure fair voting.

There are many more things that must now be advanced by the peace, justice, environmental, labor, and women's movements. And we must be impatient with the Democrats.

One last word here about liberal activists who supported the Dems fully knowing that many of them have been supporting the funding for the occupation of Iraq. I disagreed with this strategy of knee-bending loyalty to a party that does not deserve such support. But it is done now.

To these liberals peace activists I say this. Don't sell us all out now by going easy on the Dems. Don't tell us to wait, give them a chance, give them two years, let them take back the White House before we demand too much from them.

Don't sell yourself out. You have helped to create this new Democratic Party control of Congress. Get off your knees and now demand that they do something. Force the Dems to respond to you. If you don't you will have let down the long-suffering Iraqi people who are dying at the hands of U.S. military power. Don't let the GI's down who have died or suffered serious injury in Iraq for a war that was illegal in the first place. We must keep fighting, harder than ever, to bring this mad war to an end.

The battle has just begun. Where will you stand?

Monday, November 06, 2006


The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has released its long anticipated report on the human health effects of perchlorates, a byproduct of rocket fuel. Perchlorates, which are a common pollutant near military sites, have recently BEEN FOUND IN DRINKING WATER IN 35 STATES AS WELL AS IN 93 PERCENT OF LETTUCE AND MILK.

Along with the report, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set drinking water standards indicating that perchlorates are roughly TEN TIMES MORE TOXIC to humans than the Department of Defense has been claiming. Perchlorates can inhibit thyroid function, cause birth defects and lower IQs, and are considered particularly dangerous to children. Monitoring wells across the U.S. are now finding perchlorate levels as high as 30,000 times what the EPA indicates would be safe exposure.

To avoid liability, the Pentagon is currently pressuring Congress to pass a new bill that states the military does not have to adhere to any environmental regulations (as a matter of national security).

Please take 30 seconds to send a quick online letter urging your Congressperson to protect the nation's food and water by reducing perchlorate pollution. Take action and learn more about this issue by clicking on the link in the headline above.

So forget about going to the health food store and buying organic milk and cheese. The reality is that when the cows eat the grass and drink the water it is practically all contaminated.

Protest and survive. We must fight now to protect the future generations. We don't have the luxury of walking away from this.

Send the letter today!

Saturday, November 04, 2006


They call this place the bone yard. It is located in Tucson, Arizona and at this airplane graveyard over 4,500 military planes are stored. I've seen it myself on one of my speaking trips to that community. You drive for miles, along the perimeter of the fenced off base, and see rows and rows of planes. Your mind roll$ like a slot machine and you can just imagine the enormous cost to the taxpayer. You begin to realize why endless war is America’s main job these days.

This year the military budget is over $550 billion. That is more than all the rest of the military budgets around the entire world combined. Russia and China each spend just over $50 billion a year.

Once you understand this you also begin to see how the corruption of both political parties works. Democrats and Republicans like to bring home the military production bacon. They like to take the donations from the weapons corporation executives and from the unions representing military production workers. Everybody makes out in this closed loop system. Everybody is happy.

Everybody that is except the taxpayer who is not in the gravy train line. The average taxpayer gets no health care coverage, sees their kid’s college tuition rising so fast they can't help them with the cost of college and their kids are falling into $40,000 debt or more after graduation. We are told there is no money for fixing roads and bridges. There is no money to fund a real mass transit system in the country so we can get out of our global warming producing cars. On and on the story goes.

But for those on the military production gravy train life is good. They make good money and they know that work will continue because the Pentagon has found a new enemy called "the global war on terrorism." That should keep the production lines humming for at least another 50 years they figure. So what if 650,000 innocent Iraqi civilians have to die. No matter. We killed 4 million civilians in Vietnam. A small price to pay for progress. The system works just fine for those making the $$$$$.

So this Election Day be sure to vote for those politicians who promise to keep this whole thing going. Be sure to vote for those Democrats and Republicans who say they are creating jobs back home in the “defense” industry.

Don't worry about those we are killing overseas. They don't vote here anyway.

Friday, November 03, 2006


Mexican activists in Oaxaca have been under fierce attack by death squads organized by their state's corrupt governor and now federal police. In recent months Mexico has seen much political activity as claims of cheating during federal elections stirred progressive forces to take to the streets throughout the country in order to defend democracy.

In the U.S. we are getting ready to vote next week and fears are growing about how "clean" our elections will be. A dozen states have now passed new laws requiring a photo ID before a person can vote. Many poor people, who don't own cars, don't have a photo ID which means thousands will be turned away from the voting booths in key states where elections will be decided by just a few votes. The Republican machine to steal elections, by any and all means, will be in full motion in coming days. Electronic voting machines, now all over the country, are known to be rigged. Why can't we just all be given a paper ballot that can be marked and put into a ballot box?

It is sad that in the country that claims to be the bastion of freedom, our citizens have to fight for the right to vote. But those in power today fear the people and will do just about anything to ensure they hold onto that power.

In 2004, when it was clear that John Kerry lost Ohio because of massive denial of primarily black progressive voters, why didn't the Democrats fight hard for the people? Why didn't Kerry use some of that big corporate money he had left over after the election to sue Ohio on behalf of thousands of people who were denied their sacred right to vote?

I asked Ohio journalist Bob Fitrakis this question last year. Bob was a leading researcher and writer about the many Republican tricks pulled in 2004 to deny people their chance to choose our nation's leaders. Bob told me that the Democrats did not fight for the people because they too had years of cheating history in Ohio and did not feel they could afford to have that exposed.

At first I was a bit skeptical about that answer. But then I started to think about what happened here in Maine and across the country as the Democrats, just before the 2004 national election, tried to keep third party candidate Ralph Nader off the ballot in my state. The Democrats went into state court and tried to pull some dirty tricks to keep Nader from being listed on the final ballot for fear that he would take votes away from Kerry. They challenged signatures that Nader's campaign had gathered across the state. They tried to smear the Nader campaign as being dirty and corrupt. The court threw out the Democrats attempt to "limit" democracy and Nader made it onto the ballot in Maine. Kerry still won Maine in the national election.

These days you read stories about how the Democrats all over the U.S. are pulling all kinds of tricks to keep the Greens off the ballot for fear they will take votes away from them. Somehow the Dems think they "own" the progressive voters and they want to limit anyone else from having access to them.

The fact is that the Repubs and the Dems are willing to play with the system to ensure their control over the people's government. This is not a good thing and I fear that unless we can have an honest election in the U.S. we too will move closer to the day when the people will have to take to the streets like in Mexico to fight for our right to vote for who we want.

We are living in a time when corporate globalization is determining that "democracy" is an obstacle to their control of the world. Their New World Order calls for "limiting democracy" and limiting the "damage" the people can do to their attempts to maximize profits and control resources. They are leaving the public few options in return.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I was a GI for 3 and 1/2 years during the Vietnam war. I joined because I wanted to. At the time I supported the war. I also came from a military family with six kids living on an enlisted man's pay. We lived paycheck to paycheck. So I was not going to have my family pay my way to college. The military, at the time, seemed like my only option.

The truth is that most of the kids in the "all volunteer" military today come from poor and working class families. They have few other choices. For many of them there are not any jobs in their communities nor any hope for college money.

I'm tired of all the politicians talking bullshit games about how they support the troops. I'm flat out sick and tired of politicians telling us that they support the troops and then send them off to die for the benefit of the oil corporations and the likes of Bechtel and Halliburton. I'm sick of the politicians talking about exit strategies in late 2007 or two years later or more from Iraq. They don't care. Their kids are not in Iraq. Their kids are safely tucked into prep schools and fine colleges that working class kids can only dream about attending.

The troops are being left out to dry in this war and when they get home they will be abandoned like all the other troops that have fought in America's imperial wars.

You support the troops you say? Then bring them home now. And don't vote for politicians who keep telling us we need to stay in Iraq for another year or more? Ask those politicians if they are planning on sending their blood relatives to guard convoys full of cheesecake for Halliburton. Wise up. You are playing mind games with other people's lives.