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

Monday, December 31, 2007


Picking the photo for my blog is always fun for me. I like to pick things that have an impact on me and hopefully they help illustrate my point.

So for my end of year blog, and start of a new year, why this one above?

It’s called perspective.

A friend has been writing to me about her deep sadness in seeing the competition among some peace activists for control of the movement. On the national level some of the people/groups don’t work so well with each other. She tried to get in the middle of it and came away frustrated. My response was: Some progressive movement activists have adopted the business model. Competition with each other instead of cooperation - competition for money, for media, for a sense of personal and political power – access to the politicians and thus some perceived influence. Some folks spout the good rhetoric but then try to control things. We won’t ever get anywhere as long as we internalize the ideology of domination.

Our tiny Mother Earth is a spinning orb racing through space surrounded by much greater stars and planets. We are just a tiny dot in the sky. Each of us down here on tierra firma is nothing but a speck of sand at the bottom of the ocean. We are a part of nature, a part of the Earth, and a part of the universe. We take ourselves much to seriously at times.

Not to say we don’t have major issues here on the Mothership. We do - endless war, mindless hate, growing poverty, climate change and more. But the way out of this madness is not working one against the other. Our only hope is to follow the ways of nature.

In the natural world each living system – water, air, sky, land, plants, animals, humans – is linked to one another. We are part of an interconnecting web. The impact on one is an impact on the other.

The business model has indoctrinated us to believe that humans are dominant, or somehow outside of and superior to the rest of the web of life. The business model teaches us that money, power, fame is what can control and change the world. Thus many people (right wing or left wing and in between) think if they just amass those material powers they can stand above the rest. This is the death mythology at work.

My news year’s resolution is a prayer. It goes like this.

Please help me keep a sharing heart. Help me know my place in this great mystery of life. Help me remember that when I speak, I speak not just for me but also those that have no voice. Let me remember that I must work with everyone that I can to help make changes for all. Help me keep my ego in check. Help me listen better and speak less. Let me remember that I am just passing through this life. Let me have the strength to stay humble and to stay focused. Help me keep my feet on the ground.

Let the new year be a good one. Help me do my part to make it so. Help me honor all life. Let that be enough for me.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


I leave today for a speaking tour in Florida that will take me to Bradenton, Clearwater, Siesta Key, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Naples. It will be a bit of driving but that always happens when I return to Florida.

My talks will be largely featuring the space issue and each ending with my economic conversion message. Especially now, as concern intensifies about the impact of climate change, we need to be demanding Congress move funds from war making to building windmills, solar power, and mass transit systems. The vise is tightening around us and we need to make some noise.

I am scheduled to do four radio interviews during this road trip which is something I love to do. I was taught how to do radio by a local talk show host in Orlando during the early 1980's. A guy by the name of Clive Thomas used to have me on his show for three hours at a time and during the commercial breaks would make sure I understood how to handle the task at hand. It was great on-the-job training.

So I will be posting some reports from sunny Florida. It seems since I left Florida in 2003 that I've returned there more than any other place. Some folks living here in cold (and today raining) Maine wish they could come along for the sunshine. Frankly, even though I just love seeing old friends again I miss the cold weather after a day or so in the heat.

More later and best wishes in the new year to you. Let's hope that 2008 will be a better year, we sure could use one.

Friday, December 28, 2007


The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan was a sad turn of events in an already deadly region. Her challenge to current dictator, and president, Pervez Musharraf was publicly welcomed by the U.S. even though the Bush administration has long been a backer of Musharraf. In Pakistan the popular resistance calls their president Busharraf in order to acknowledge the close connections between Pakistan and the U.S.

The U.S. has long been providing Pakistan with high-tech weapons systems which has only made neighboring India more insecure as they see their border rival armed to the teeth. The U.S. response has of course been to sell India even more weapons thus creating a regional nightmare.

Bhutto was a polarizing figure who served two turbulent tenures as prime minister, first from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996.

We are told that she was attempting to save her homeland from military rule and the madness that has torn apart Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, by the Western created Islamic mujaheddin originally funded to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.

The new film "Charlie Wilson's War" glorifies the U.S. role in Afghanistan as best as I can make out. Admittedly I've not yet seen the movie but it appears to make a hero out of Wilson's role in organizing Congressional covert funding of the Afghan mujaheddin and Pakistan's intelligence service (ISI). Read this review of the film by Chalmers Johnson:

The Bush administration has been a staunch supporter of Musharraf, providing his regime with over $10 billion in financial aid since 2001. Musharraf's use of U.S. funds to crack down on the country's democratic forces has led to growing anti-American sentiments among the nation's moderate, secular forces.

One likely consequence of the Bhutto assassination is greater militarization and fragmentation of Pakistan and Afghanistan, including more U.S. and NATO troops to "suppress" fundamentalist terrorism.

Thus the Bhutto assassination will sadly help to prepare the American people for expanded U.S. operations in Pakistan.

Democratic party presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama has been saying for some time that the U.S. should shift its focus from Iraq to become more involved in the internal problems inside Pakistan. In a statement yesterday following the killing of Bhutto, Obama said, "I've been saying for some time that we've got a very big problem" in Pakistan. "We were distracted from focusing on them."

News reports in recent days have been predicting that early next year U.S. special forces will vastly expand their presence in Pakistan to train and support counter-insurgency units. This will sink the U.S. further into the quagmire and it is likely that both major political parties in the U.S. will back such an explosive policy.

Militarists in the south Asia region have gained the upper hand. That means more weapons, more violence, and loss of democracy. The U.S., once again, seems eager to offer its own prescription for stability - endless war.

The obvious links to fossil fuel extraction and pipeline routes in this region cannot be ignored. This is what drives U.S. policy today. Unfortunately for the people in the region they will continue to suffer due to the fact of where they happen to live.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


The Airborne Laser (ABL) is now under development (a modified Boeing 747) and is a key part of the U.S. Star Wars program. It's job would be to fly over an "offending territory" 24 hours a day and fire a laser beam from the turret in the nose cone knocking down nuclear missiles soon after they had been launched.

It's real job is to mop up after a U.S. first-strike attack, picking off any lone missiles that might be fired in retaliation after the initial U.S. volley. (It should be noted that the U.S. Space Command has been war gaming such an attack on China for the past few years. Set in the year 2016 the Pentagon launches a first-strike attack against Chinese nuclear missiles.)

The key problem with the ABL is that the technology is quite difficult to make work properly. Thus the program, like most space technology programs, is way behind schedule and well over budget.

In the recent Congressional Defense Authorization process the House of Representatives wanted to give the ABL $300 million for research and development in the coming year and the Senate wanted to fund the program at $350 million. It was sent to a joint House-Senate "conference committee" to resolve the difference. Their decision was to fund the project at $513.8 million.

The Congressional Budget Office has made a preliminary estimate that the ABL program could cost as much as $36.0 billion to develop, procure, and operate a fleet of seven aircraft for 20 years.

The ABL is being developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, NM) and Team ABL, comprising Boeing (Wichita, Kansas), TRW (now Northrop Grumman Space Technologies) and Lockheed Martin.

Boeing is responsible for program management, systems integration, battle management system and modification of the aircraft. TRW is building the laser systems. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is responsible for the target acquisition and beam control systems.

The first prototype is scheduled for completion in late 2008 with high-power testing to begin by the end of the year. Missile intercept testing will start in 2009.

According to the head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, "I believe we are building the forces of good to beat the forces of evil. We are taking the first major step towards giving the American people their first light saber. This is not the prettiest aircraft I have seen. It is not supposed to be pretty. It is supposed to be mean."

The Pentagon mentions that this "force of good" weapon system would be used to "protect" the U.S. against North Korea and Iran but the fact is that it is being developed to contain China.

The U.S. is now militarily surrounding China by doubling its Naval presence in the Asian-Pacific region, deploying Aegis destroyers outfitted with "missile defense" systems on-board just off China's coast, and expanding runways in Japan and Guam to handle long range bombers. Bases in South Korea are also being expanded as the Pentagon intends to militarize the region forcing all allied countries to make "upgrades" to their weapons systems thus generating another generation of profits for the military industrial complex.

Just as chaos and instability has been brought to the Middle East by arming all sides and creating endless war in the region, the plan for the Asian-Pacific is the same. The U.S. empire's strategy is to rule by force of violence. Where there is presently no violence, it will be brought to ensure control through madness.

Only a very sick culture would act like this. The U.S. is addicted to war and violence. Hitler would have admired the current U.S. military machine.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


"This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."

From the Preface to "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman

Click on the link in the headline above for a wonderful short video called Peace on Earth which is a 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon directed by Hugh Harman, about a post-apocalyptic world populated by animals.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I was watching CNN news this morning and they were interviewing a GI in Iraq who will be away from his new wife this Christmas. He said, "I'm just here taking care of business" and I thought just how right he is. The occupation of Iraq is all about oil and war business and these soldiers are just giving up their lives to take care of things for the big corporations.

The business of America is business the old saying goes. Or the song, "I'm taking care of business and working over time."

Another image for me where folks are "taking care of business" was New Orleans this week. The photo above shows the scene where police used chemical spray and stun guns on the dozens of protesters trying to get into the packed City Council chamber. The New Orleans City Council last Thursday moved to demolish thousands of low-income houses as the city continues the agonisingly slow process or rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina.

Demolition crews will now move in to dismantle the 4,500 brick buildings (many I've seen on video are in good shape) that generations of poor people lived in. The poor in New Orleans are concerned that the authorities intend to reduce the numbers of predominantly poor, black people living there.

They are clearing out the poor so they can use the land to house those who can pay more for housing. Taking care of business and working over time to do it.

Shortly after Katrina struck, the Republican Congressman Richard Baker told lobbyists in a Baton Rouge Red Cross shelter: “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did.”

Taking care of business with help from the Lord......

The story of New Orleans, the story of America today, is that business interests come first and that the people be damned. Democracy has been drowned and will stay that way until the people rise up to demand something different.

My son Julian, visiting for the holidays, told me last night that we get "hope when people make demands." No demands then no hope.

We need to start taking care of the people and the Mother Earth. Capitalism is killing us.

Friday, December 21, 2007


A Hamas suicide bomber posing with a rifle and a copy of the Koran.

Soldiers at Fort Jackson Army Base pose with their rifles and Bibles.

By Jason Leopold (For the full story click on link in headline above)

For U.S. Army soldiers entering basic training at Fort Jackson Army base in Columbia, South Carolina, accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior appears to be as much a part of the nine-week regimen as the vigorous physical and mental exercises the troops must endure.

That's the message directed at Fort Jackson soldiers, some of whom appear in photographs in government issued fatigues, holding rifles in one hand, and Bibles in their other hand.

Frank Bussey, director of Military Ministry at Fort Jackson, has been telling soldiers at Fort Jackson that "government authorities, police and the military = God's Ministers."

Bussey's teachings from the "God's Basic Training" Bible study guide he authored says U.S. troops have "two primary responsibilities": "to praise those who do right" and "to punish those who do evil - "God's servant, an angel of wrath." Bussey's teachings directed at Fort Jackson soldiers were housed on the Military Ministry at Fort Jackson web site. Late Wednesday, the web site was taken down without explanation. Bussey did not return calls for comment. The web site text, however, can still be viewed in an archived format.

The Christian right has been successful in spreading its fundamentalist agenda at U.S. military installations around the world for decades. But the movement's meteoric rise in the U.S. military came in large part after 9/11 and immediately after the U.S. invaded Iraq in March of 2003. At a time when the United States is encouraging greater religious freedom in Muslim nations, soldiers on the battlefield have told disturbing stories of being force-fed fundamentalist Christianity by highly controversial, apocalyptic "End Times" evangelists, who have infiltrated U.S. military installations throughout the world with the blessing of high-level officials at the Pentagon. Proselytizing among military personnel has been conducted openly, in violation of the basic tenets of the United States Constitution.

Perhaps no other fundamentalist Christian group is more influential than Military Ministry, a national organization and a subsidiary of the controversial fundamentalist Christian organization Campus Crusade for Christ. Military Ministry's national web site boasts it has successfully "targeted" basic training installations, or "gateways," and has successfully converted thousands of soldiers to evangelical Christianity.

(Watch the Jesus Camp clip at this link)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


As we approach Christmas people around the world will remember the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. Today in Bethlehem there is another story to be told.

The Israeli government has built a huge wall dissecting Palestinian lands thus making life and travel nearly impossible for the people. The Israeli government maintains the wall is for their security. The occupied Palestinian people tell a different story.

The International Court of Justice has made a historic ruling on Israel's Wall. In 2005, the Court deemed the Wall and all of Israel's settlements grave violations of international law and human rights, as well as obstacles to peace. Israel, however, continues to erect its Wall and to expand its settlements in the occupied West Bank, undeterred.

Originally approved in April 2002, Israel's Wall consists of an entire regime: concrete slabs
towering 25 feet high (8 meters), razor wire, trenches, sniper towers, electrified fences, military
roads, electronic surveillance, remote-controlled infantry, and "buffer zones" that sometimes stretch over one hundred meters wide.

The Wall is not being built on, or in most cases near the 1967 Green Line, but rather cuts deep into the West Bank, expanding Israel's grab of Palestinian land and resources.

When completed, the Wall will de facto annex some 47% of the West Bank, isolating communities into bantustans, enclaves and “military zones”.

The wall is helping Israel confiscate 37 wells that provide 4 million cubic meters of water.

It is interesting to note, that the Wall planned by Ariel Sharon will annex the most fertile and rich land, leaving the Palestinians with only 40% of their agricultural land.

I refer you to the music video entitled, "They've Cancelled Christmas in Bethlehem - The Wall Must Fall." It is written and performed by Anglican priest, Rev. Garth Hewitt. The video has heart breaking footage of the wall.

Fortunately the Palestinian people have allies around the world, including organizations like Jews Against the Occupation. Inside Israel, peace groups like Gush Shalom have long been calling the wall a "separation wall not about security."

There will never be peace in the Middle East as long as the Palestinian people continue to suffer as they do today. It is imperative that the wall comes down. Now.

If the Soviet Union's wall in Berlin was wrong, and it was, then so is this one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Cynthia McKinney, a former six-term Congresswoman and an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq, officially launched her campaign on December 16 as a Green Party candidate for President.

I went down to city hall yesterday and changed my voter registration to Green Party so I can support Cynthia's campaign in my free time.

In a just-released video news release, Cynthia says "the Republicans have deceived us; the Democrats have failed us. It is time for a new beginning: A time for hope to rise from the ashes
of despair."

McKinney, a former Democrat from Georgia, was one of only three members of Congress to vote "yes" on a House Resolution in 2005 calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. One of her last acts in office was introducing Articles of Impeachment naming George Bush, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice.

I am beyond excited to see this announcement. There will now be a candidate in the 2008 election that we can count on to raise the issues of universal, single-payer health care; fair trade; support for the poor and working class; real environmental change; support for Katrina survivors in New Orleans; an end to the Iraq occupation and planning for endless war; and the creation of good jobs in America by investing in sustainable technologies that give the future generations a chance.

I think the McKinney campaign will go a long way in building something we do not currently have - a true progressive coalition of people of color, peace activists, women, and environmentalists.....something that is a must if we are ever to challenge the two wars parties for power.

I urge everyone to watch this campaign video announcement and to give serious consideration to supporting Cynthia's run for president. She will be supporting us. We should support her in return.

Check out her campaign web site at

For those of you who are supporting Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic party primaries keep doing it. He deserves your support. I just sent him a donation the other day. But I don't think his party will allow him to get the nomination and once we get to the general election in November , 2008 we will need another choice.

In the end, the way things are going now, we are all going to be together on the streets protesting the endless war cycle of the oligarchy.

Monday, December 17, 2007


This is the time of year we are all urged to go shop til we drop so we can grow the economy. The problem though is that growth is killing our very finite planet.

Please click on the link in the headline above to see a very fine video called The Story of Stuff. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world.

The video reminds us that in the U.S. we are 5% of the world's population but that we are using 30% of the dwindling resources of our Mother Earth. We are now using twice the resources today that Americans used 60 years ago.

We have become complicit in our own demise and the corporations are getting rich off our destruction. Sound evil? It is.

We have been taught to worship things more than we worship the very source of life - our fragile planet. The corporate marketers have literally climbed inside our brains and hearts and move us around like cheap plastic chess pieces on a board.

Let this holiday season be the time of our personal liberation from the chains of shopping, consumption, materialism, and the death of real spirituality.

To everyone I know I say........I will still love you if you don't send me a holiday card or a present. Send me an email instead or bake me some banana bread. Or maybe just call me to say hello.

Shop local, eat local, and walk local.

Have a happy holiday season by freeing yourself and the planet.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Yesterday afternoon I went to Portland to show support for the state's environmental community at a public hearing concerning the future of the Moosehead Lake region in the north. According to the local paper this morning more than 500 people turned out with the majority opposing a plan by the Plum Creek corporation to develop 20,000 acres surrounding the lake. A total of 2,315 residential and resort units are planned. In addition Plum Creek wants roads, a marina, and a golf course in this pristine region.

“This is the largest single development proposal in Maine’s history,” says Brownie Carson, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Seattle-based Plum Creek will come and go, but the people of Maine will live with the decisions made in this rezoning process forever. We cannot sit idly by and allow the company to destroy what people love about Maine’s beautiful Moosehead region."

Plum Creek is a forest products and development corporation. Their CEO Rick Holley makes $5 million a year and sits on the board of directors of the newspaper chain that owns several key Maine newspapers. Plum Creek bought the land surrounding Moosehead Lake for $200 per acre and will likely sell shorefront homes for over $280,000 each.

Plum Creek pays no federal or Maine corporate income taxes. Plum Creek was fined in the past for violations of laws protecting Maine forests - the largest such fine in Maine history. Plum Creek is also the largest private land owner in the nation, controlling 8.2 million acres in 18 states. In Maine they own 928,000 acres.

When I moved to Orlando, Florida in 1974 the area was just exploding with growth from the Disney World boom. Major road projects were slicing the area into parcels that were then developed to maximize profits of those who owned huge plots of land. Orlando has many small lakes and when I first arrived there I could stand in a lake and easily see my feet as the water was crystal clear from the underground springs that feed them. When I left Orlando 20 years later to move to Gainesville, Florida I would not have dared set a foot in any of these lakes. In 20 years time they had been destroyed from the road runoff, pesticides from lawns, and other pollutants that come with urban sprawl.

The enormous development in Orlando also created massive infrastructure pressures for roads, bridges, fire stations, shopping centers, schools, hospitals and the like. Most of these needs were left to the tax payers to fund as the development interests built their projects and left the community holding the bag. Orlando today is a mess and a toxic nightmare.

I can quickly see that Plum Creek's massive development plan will end up costing the tax payers in Maine dearly. Maine is already financially a basket case and can't repave existing roads in the state. Open up the Moosehead Lake region for development and there will be a tremendous road building operation that the state will then have to maintain. The developers won't pay for it. And the pristine environment of Moosehead will be forever changed in a negative way. The lake will become polluted with gas guzzling luxury boats of the super-rich, jet skis from resorts, toxic pollutants from golf courses and perfect lawns, and road run-off flowing into the lake. And wildlife will be impacted in ways that can never be recovered.

Maine's Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) is now holding public hearings and will then make a decision on Plum Creek's development request. If you live in Maine please be sure to write them ASAP and urge them to reject Plum Creek's request which would force the greedy corporation to come back with a more benign proposal. You can contact LURC by sending a message to:

My friend Jonathan Carter, extraordinary Maine environmental leader, says "The Moosehead region of Maine is an area of unprecedented beauty. The remote mountain peaks, extensive forests, pristine waters, clean air, native fisheries, and diverse wildlife make this region an extraordinary place of wildness. In spite of the destructive logging which has scarred the landscape with clearcuts and logging roads over the last several decades, one can still feel the sense of being on the edge of the last frontier, which extends northward to the wilds of the Allagash, eastward to the Katahdin wilderness, and westward to the Canadian border and the famed Moose River region. Moosehead represents the heart of the last remaining unprotected wildlands in the east."

We must protect the land for future generations of humans, plants, trees, and wildlife. Please do what you can to help.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I love baseball. I played it endlessly while growing up, played in adult softball leagues when I got older (until my knees gave out) and now follow my childhood team the Baltimore Orioles. During my time in the military I coached Little League baseball for a couple years and when my son Julian was growing up I helped coach his teams as well. My big dream in life was to be a baseball coach.

But it is getting harder and harder to have any respect for the "big leagues" - the so-called professional game these days. Big money has taken over the sport and the players and owners have gotten so focused on the "bottom line" that they've left the fan base cynical and broken hearted.

The latest steroid scandal in baseball is just more of the same bad news for the fans. Players that we have grown to admire are being revealed as serial drug users. (My team had 19 past and present players on the juice according to the Mitchell Report that came out yesterday.) The owners, despite their high moralism today, have known for years that players were using "stuff". They didn't care because more home runs and more high flight pitching was selling tickets and putting money in all their pockets.

It was only when the reality of drugs was getting so out of hand, and hard to hide any longer, that the owners decided on this recent witch hunt. Once some well-known players started naming names in their books the public pressure on the owners was just too much. When you had players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemons getting better as they were getting older they were defying nature. Players in the old days slowed down, hit for lower average, their pitching arms wore out as they aged. It has all become just too obvious.

The so-called commissioner of baseball, former owner, Bud Selig is a joke. He should be fired for having allowed this whole episode to go on for so long. And we should take the profit out of professional sports by having public ownership of professional sports teams. The Green Bay Packers are owned by their community and have done just fine under the circumstances.

Baseball's most expensive player, Alex Rodriguez, just signed an obscene contract with the New York Yankees for 10 years and $275 million. As long as you allow those kinds of dollars to be floating around for a ball player there are all kinds of incentives for less skilled players to try to drug their way to the big pay day.

Kids all over America are now taking steroids in hopes it will help them earn their way to college and then to pro sports and the mega bucks.

All of this has hurt the fan in the pocket book as well. Most fans can't afford to pay the enormous cost of going to a professional sports event anymore. Taking the whole family to the ball park is almost like spending their entire annual vacation savings on one game.

The big corporations buy alot of the tickets and then hand them out to customers. They get tax breaks for this "business expense" so once again the tax payers get screwed.

Big cable TV contracts have made the owners and the players rich beyond imagination. Then the greedy owners turn to the cities and demand the tax payers build new fancy stadiums or they threaten to move to another city.

The time has come for the fans to speak out. Take the big money out of the game. Reduce ticket prices so real fans can afford to go to the games. Take the teams away from the greedy owners. Return sports to its proper place in our society. It's only a game. Corporate control of sports is the problem. Corporate control of everything in our society these days is the problem.

Until things change I suggest a boycott of pro sports games.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


The mainstream media was abuzz days ago when Oprah Winfrey traveled to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina for campaign appearances with presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). Obama is closing in on Hillary Clinton in Iowa which will be the first state to vote in the 2008 primary campaign horse race.

There is a media generated perception out there that Obama is an anti-war candidate. This is far from the truth. I heard him with my own ears say in a recent debate that if elected president U.S. troops would still be stationed in Iraq at the end of his first term in 2013. Other leading Democratic Party candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards said the same thing.

About a year ago I was watching C-SPAN one day and saw an interview with a Chicago Tribune reporter who has covered Obama's rise through Illinois politics. The interviewer asked the reporter, "Isn't Obama too radical to be elected president?" The reporter responded, "No, you don't understand. Obama has a very good relationship with the Chicago banking community."

Now that is a very telling statement. To be one of the acceptable candidates of the banking community means that you have passed the smell test. That essentially means you will not challenge the power structure in any real way. It means you will do nothing as a president to interrupt the corporate empires ability to make money from endless war for oil and other diminishing resources.

If you watch Obama closely he does not say much of substance in his speeches. He talks alot about bringing the nation together, the red states and the blue states, and says that things need to change in Washington. All feel good talk for sure.

But he makes little noise about changing the dynamic in America where the rich are getting richer and everyone else is getting poorer. He says little in terms of ending the occupation of Iraq or preventing a new war with Iran. He says nothing about ending the power of the military industrial complex. His health care plan is all about helping the insurance companies have greater access to our wallets. He thinks impeachment is a waste of time.

Obama is a good politician who knows how to play the game. The power structure knows the voters are angry about Iraq, about the declining economy, about the lack of health care. They know they need to put candidates into place that can control the steam valve of American public opinion by appearing to be responding to the people. But these candidates, most importantly, need to remember who their daddy is. In the case of Obama he actually protects the purse of the bankers and big boys that run the show. Thus he is an acceptable candidate.

Glen Ford, director of the Black Agenda Report, recently wrote, "Through his own statements, Barack Obama relentlessly destroys his former anti-war credentials. In an effort to establish himself as a 'statesman' in the eyes of the power structure, Obama now advocates a much larger Army and Marine Corps to allow the U.S. to 'lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good.' Do not expect a 'peace dividend' under a President Barack Obama. The only genuine peace candidate [in the Democratic primaries, along with former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel] is Rep. Dennis Kucinich, of Ohio - which is why the corporate media pretend Kucinich doesn't exist."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


While just in Florida we took a one-day side trip to St. Augustine to visit our dear friend Peg McIntire. Peg just turned 97 and remains active in the peace movement. The photo above is her at this year's School of the Americas demonstration at Fort Benning in Georgia.

The day we visited Peg she had spent the morning surveying the public in front of the public library on homeless issues. She told us that a few days before she had gone north to Jacksonville to speak at a rally and in October she had travelled to Orlando to address a big anti-war event.

I've known Peg for at least 20 years and she has become like a second mother to me. For many years she served as the Treasurer of the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice which I coordinated for many years. She has been a loyal member and supporter of the Global Network since its creation and has been arrested doing civil disobedience at the space center in Florida numerous times.

Peg, in addition to all her other activities, still ably coordinates her chapter of Grandparents for Peace.

As I write this the Congress is working on a new funding bill for the Iraq occupation and the war in Afghanistan. Once again it is likely that the Democrats will talk big about ending the occupation and then in the end roll over and give Bush the money he wants.

The money that is being wasted on war making is just mind blowing. Just days ago we heard that the Pentagon has lost $1 billion in Iraq. How could that happen except for outright stealing or handing the money over to the "enemy" so they can buy more weapons on the black market thus giving the U.S. a "good excuse" to stay in Iraq because it is such a mess.

Now a new story has come out saying that the Army is undertaking a $200 billion modernization program (called Future Combat Systems) to make all their forces "net-centric". According to an article in the Washington Post, "The project involves creating a family of 14 weapons, drones, robots, sensors and hybrid-electric combat vehicles connected by a wireless network. It has turned into the most ambitious modernization of the Army since World War II and the most expensive Army weapons program ever, military officials say."

In real terms double or triple that cost estimate and you get an idea how much of your money will be thrown down the rat hole on this one. What happened to all the fiscal conservatives? Hell, they are getting rich off this stuff.

Today, the Army program involves more than 550 contractors and subcontractors in 41 states and 220 congressional districts, a wide dispersal of Department of War funds that generates political subservience.

Ok, so what does Peg have to do with the Army's Future Combat Systems program? What is the connection?

First, I'd say that Peg's life indicates that we have to be committed to our resistance work as a lifetime goal. We can't just dabble in it as a sideline. Age is not a ticket out of the struggle. Peg is in this for the revolutionary change that is needed.

Secondly, we have to understand that just writing letters or showing up a demonstrations is not enough. Sometimes we have to step across the line at our non-violent actions and go to jail if need be. You can imagine the attention she gets when she takes such a step and gets arrested. In Florida she is a legend.

Lastly, I'd say we can learn from Peg that a sense of joy, hopeful expectation, and wonder is important to maintain as we do our work. She is never naive but is always ready to embrace the unexpected. She reaches deep into people just by her own unwavering steadiness. Peg, unlike me, does not preach. She just sets an example by her actions and her life.

Zillions of people have told Peg "I want to be just like you when I grow up." I am one of those people.

Monday, December 10, 2007

ALBUQUERQUE: Chavez, Udall, Richardson and the arms race in space

By Bob Anderson (Stop the War Machine)

Just a few days ago Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, a three term mayor, surprised everyone with an announcement to withdraw from the race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Pete Dominici. Chavez had been the first major Democratic Party candidate in New Mexico to announce for the seat two months ago. Then a month ago Tom Udall, Democratic Party Congressional representative from northern New Mexico announced for the same seat. The political airwaves have been hot and heavy ever since.

Mayor Chavez said in his message that it is his desire is to preserve and increase Democratic Party unity in Congress to stop the illegal war in Iraq and he wished now to work to help Rep. Tom Udall win the senate seat. A bloody and expensive primary battle between Chavez and Udall would be unwise he said. I sent a thank you note to the Mayor for his concern in the struggle to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home.

I wish the Democrats in Congress had the resolve to stop the war in Iraq as the image seems to appear to some.

I think the mayor made two major strategic blunders when Rep. Tom Udall announced his campaign to win the senate seat. These missteps were fatal to him and they tell us something important about the changing base of the U.S. electorate and the race to militarize space.

Mayor Chavez first tried to play the race card, almost like Republicans using immigration to divide the public. He said Udall, an Anglo was not Hispanic enough for New Mexico. This did not unite his perceived base of support. The anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic message also worked to damage Gov. Richardson a Hispanic running in Iowa as a unity candidate for the nomination for president. Wow, what a blunder.

But more important, when this did not work Chavez then tried to up the ante with a message that he would boost efforts to keep open the nuclear weapons factories of Los Alamos (and Sandia NL). Congress has moved to cut the funds and Rep. Udall spoke of diversifying the nuke labs mission. Chavez lost ground on this too as many in the state know there must be a new mission for the labs away from nukes if they are to survive, and Udall has made statements to that effect. It is obvious too that the labs have not brought us security nor ended poverty, illness and inequality in the state. Chavez was proof of that point.

Chavez says he got feedback in his polling and from friends that his high visibility attacks were way out of touch with the the public and probably the governor and many others. He said it was time to look for new horizons.

If this is true it means the larger trend of the public moving left, or away from war and militarism is a deep rooted phenomena for New Mexico is a special place in this whole historical development.

I think we saw some of this in the mandate last November for the Democrats to work to end the wars in the Middle East. They have not yet acted on that message and what is interesting is that we can see it is having a direct impact now in a key Senate race in a core state in the military-industrial complex, New Mexico. Our state has had its fate intertwined with nuclear weapons since the Manhattan project.

Mayor Chavez was a casualty of the old guard political order not having learned some key lessons. Now the questions emerge about what it means for Gov. Richardson who is saying we need to dismantle the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. This was at odds with Marty Chavez obviously and with the workers here tied to jobs in the nuclear weapons industry. But these is more to this than meets the eye.

Two years ago this month my wife, Jeanne Pahls, and some other anti-nuclear activists were invited by Gov. Richardson to his office in the Roundhouse. The governor it appears now wanted to sound out some in the peace community as he was preparing his move into the presidential race. Jeanne asked the governor to take a stand against nuclear weapons and the WMD factories in our state. She presented him with a petition with over 8,000 signatures calling for dismantling the WMD stockpile at Kirtland AFB inside Albuquerque. The governor ignored her request.

Later as the nation engaged in the 2006 national election campaign for Congress the Baker Commission issued a report calling on the president to address the war with a new mind and solution. Implicit, but not noticed in this report was the notion that we had to get away from WMDs as the key issue and onto a coalition path to relations with the region.

Then on Jan. 4, 2007 the Wall Street Journal carried a major opinion piece by notable U.S. political voices William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, George F. Schultz and Sam Nunn calling for an end to our hypocritical stance on WMDs. They pointed out the hypocrisy of us saying that we can keep our WMDs while everyone else does away with theirs. This reality political show took roots with Gov. Richardson who has long been associated with HenryKissinger and the neo-liberal political school of thought.

Richardson soon came out as a peace candidate, calling for an end to the war in Iraq and an end to the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. It is obvious Marty Chavez was not following the same text as Richardson has been moving on, he obviously was not listening to the grassroots in his own state.

A lot of people then began saying that Gov. Richardson had made a major turn around but I don't think that is the case at all if one understand the goal of the neo-liberals and what is going on the the restructuring of the U.S. military with a new set of technologies and strategies.

For example, a couple weeks ago the U.S. Air Force announced plans to create a new cyber warfare center for future war fighting. Gov. Richardson who was in Iowa campaigning for president quickly issued a call to have the new war center set up in Albuquerque, NM at Kirtland AFB.

Kirtland AFB is a center of the most advanced war planning which includes Iraq, on the other side of the globe and a key center for military restructuring plans. The publications of the Space Command and the research center at Kirtland AFB state they are leading the world in supremacy for control of the cosmos, to dominate the high ground of space for control of the earth across a broad spectrum of war fighting capabilities.

The U.S. military is moving rapidly away from a strategy based on messy and expensive nuclear weapons to a more sophisticated plan for the building of a global empire. You can't rule a planet wasted by radiation. The U.S. Army has just revealed they are planning to spend $200 billion to build a war fighting capacity based on wireless and Internet technologies, none of which are possible without secure access to and control of space which is where the satellites are that link all the new technologies together.

Not only that but as Jonathan Shell has pointed out there is the urgent danger of the linear spread of nuclear weapons now, other nations learning how to build and use nuclear weapons in their fight for self-determination.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union as a counter balance in the Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine of warfare smaller nations are realizing that if they are to avoid being colonized they must have nuclear weapons too. This is a danger the neo-liberals like Kissinger, Nunn and Richardson are facing head on. Others like Marty Chavez have missed this turn in the road to the future.

New Mexico's Gov. Richardson has been campaigning with a new image of being for peace and an antinuclear activist but what he is doing really is following the Baker, Kissinger, Nunn plan of quickly acquiring the holy grail of new age weapons - the control of space, or the militarization of space. The result is a new arms race in space that few in the U.S. electorate have noticed.

Other nations have noticed this new development. China, Japan, France, Israel, India and Russia are moving to acquire new capabilities in these areas of future warfare. None of the global war fighting capabilities the U.S. empire needs can be accomplished without securing outer space, much like securing the seas of the old age was key to control and commerce then. Once ports around the world were key for a global navy, now it is secure satellites that are key.

China's recent destruction of one of their obsolete satellites with a simple earth launched missile was a plea to everyone to negotiate a treaty on weapons and war in space or face a new arms race that will be staggering in costs. Everyone seems to want to avoid this, everyone except the U.S.

The response of the U.S. political establishment has been to ignore the global demand for a solution and to push ahead with new unilateral and taxing expenditures for more high tech weapons. The U.S. plan is actually in scale larger than the old Manhattan Project. We see it in cuts to social and human services, even to veterans coming back from the ground wars in the Middle East. They are spending like crazy to grab as much of the high ground of space as possible in the shortest period of time before the public catches on.

Gov. Richardson is in tune with this imperial mission while appearing to be a new peace leader. During his tenure as governor many new space weapons systems have been developed and centralized in New Mexico with his support and encouragement, not criticism and discouragement. The new Air Force cyber war center is for him a complement to the directed energy, laser, anti-satellite and other exotic weapons developed here. To us they are like the V2 rockets of the Nazi regime.

This is the situation the peace movement and the nation finds itself in. The public is moving away from war and nuclear weapons but has not grasped yet the new plans of the empire builders who still run the show in Washington.

At the grassroots we need to take into the elections the message that yes, we want to end the war in Iraq, to end the scourge of nuclear weapons but we also want to keep war and weapons out of space, that we want a funding of human needs, not massive expenditures for war profiteers, as Pres. Eisenhower warned us about, in 1961.

The recent Chavez-Udall debate over the struggle for Sen. Pete Domenici's seat in Washington has illuminated new challenges for those working for a just and democratic society across the planet.

- Bob Anderson (Stop the War Machine) Albuquerque, N.M.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I watched a bit of George W. Bush on TV last night trying to make the best out of his bad Iran situation. The new intelligence report has poked a big hole in his effort to bomb Iran back into the stone age like he has done to Afghanistan and Iraq. He was not a happy boy.

When asked if this in any way indicated that he had not been truthful with the American people Bush flew into a controlled rage. He finished his very crazy defensive remarks by bounding off the podium and through the back door of the press room. He knows now that he has been fully exposed. But even with that he still maintains that Iran must continue to be poked and prodded and tortured to ensure that they never, ever, even consider learning how to make a nuclear weapon.

Will that flimsy reasoning be enough to still attack Iran? With Bush-Cheney in power one can never say no.

The clear fact that Bush-Cheney have been caught once again manipulating public opinion in order to start another war has to be the straw that broke the camels back. This must be enough to weaken Bush-Cheney so that the Democrats will bring forward impeachment hearings. But will it happen. Not likely, as the Democrats would prefer to just have the B-C rotten corpse just hang in the wind and stink up Washington right up to the next election. But there is nothing more dangerous than a crazy wounded rat, or should I say, two crazy wounded rats.

I heard last night that 80% of Republicans in the state of Iowa still support Bush. That number is probably fairly consistent across the country. It indicates to me that the Bush-Cheney strategy is that as long as they still have the majority of their party on-board then that means they still can use the Republicans in Congress to block any effort to cut funding for the Iraq occupation or bring the troops home. Bush's base is sound and thus he can live for another day.

As an organizer I find that the Democrats are doing little to challenge Bush's base to move away from him. Unless the Republican base begins to feel the national heat of indictments for criminal activity there is no reason to abandon Bush. But if the Democrats began holding real impeachment hearings and brought forward substantial legal charges then you'd see the rats start jumping ship. The B-C pirate ship would then sink faster than a lobbyist getting a favor from a politician after giving them a campaign donation.

I still think it is quite conceivable that Bush (the out of control alcoholic) could attack Iran. His contempt for the American people, the media, the Congress, International law, and our Constitution is palpable. The only way to restrain him is to go after him with the full force of the law.

That means the pressure on the Democrats to impeach B-C must be dramatically escalated. The evidence is there to warrant impeachment.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Hugo Chavez wanted a free hand to run Venezuela for a lifetime. On Sunday, in a national referendum people voted 51-49% to reject numerous reforms to the Constitution that would have allowed him to remain in office indefinitely.

A telling comment, reported by the Washington Post, was by Wilfredo Vivas, 45, a cabbie, who said among the troubling alterations was one under which Chávez could name governors and mayors.

"He says he gives more power to the people, but in that article I see that he's taken power away from the people," Vivas said. "Now we won't elect mayors or governors, but he names them."

Part of me can understand that Chavez wants to maintain control to ensure that social progress in Venezuela continues. But becoming a dictator for life is not the solution. Chavez should spend his time and national resources to develop leadership in the local communities and barrios if he wants the progress of social reform to continue.

The only way to ensure a generation of progress is to educate and involve people in real decision making at the local level. Consolidating power in the hands of a few is the wrong answer.

Chavez has now handed his opponents a great organizing tool to oppose him. Instead of wasting the time and energy this failed referendum took, he should have been doubling his efforts to bring the poor to greater positions of leadership in the country. I'm sure to some extent he has been doing that but it appears that even some of his allies turned against him on this vote. In some cases even his friends could see that Chavez was making a mistake that would alienate him from the public that he purports to serve.

The good thing in all of this is that the vote reveals that large segments of even Chavez supporters have now come to expect that the people should control their government. That is the right way for sure. It would be nice if in the U.S. more of our public would demand that "we the people" run our government rather than the corporate lackeys that control our nation today.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Mary Beth was released from the hospital today in Orlando about 4:00 pm and after a short visit with my sister Laura, who will remain in the hospital until early next week, we made our way west on I-4 to Sarasota.

As I drove west, with MB laying down in the back seat, the setting sun put on quite a show. The full orange sun, looking so big and brilliant, was right in front of us as if showing us the way. My first reaction was to remember that our Mother Earth is just a tiny orb flying through space. I tried to look past all the rushing cars, the big highways, the neon lights, and the buildings on either side of the road. All I wanted to think about was that I am just another person in the great span of time living here on our planet. I am just a speck in time, a grain of sand on the ocean floor, and what an incredible gift our short lives really are. Long before the modern distractions the people spent much time reflecting on their place in the universe. We do little of that today.

We are staying at the home of MB's brother Jimmy in Sarasota. He owns two restaurants in the community and spends much time dealing with keeping them running. We will largely have the house to ourselves as MB's sister-in-law Anna moved to Arizona to help create a health spa with her sisters near the Mexico border. Jimmy is now trying to sell their house in Sarasota but the housing market is slow these days.

Our time here will be spent with MB resting and taking short walks trying to rebuild her stamina after the operation. The weather is in the low 80's here and we heard today that snow is expected back in Maine this weekend. After having lived for 30 years in Florida I can say with all sincerity that I'd rather be in Maine shoveling snow but here is where we are for now.

We will stay here until the end of next week when we have to return to Orlando for MB's final check up before we can return to Maine.

Laura is doing very well, it appears that the new kidney is working quite nicely, and her spirits are high. Her room is filled with visitors and today our cousin Claudia who lives on Florida's east coast was visiting so it was nice to briefly see her before we left.

I will spend my time keeping up with my emails and working on doing an update to my book that was published in 2005. I've already identified some of my writings from the past two years that I want to put in the book and will need to edit them. I've run out of books, having sold 1,000 so far, and thought it made sense to bring the book up-to-date before getting more copies printed. All proceeds from the book go to the Global Network.