Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

My Photo
Location: Brunswick, 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

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Last night about 200 folks came together in Portland for an impeachment event that featured David Swanson as speaker. Swanson of - one of the most influential impeachment action organizations in the U.S. - spoke about the status and prospects for impeachment. His powerful talk pointed directly at the need to put pressure on Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party leadership.

The event was organized by which is a group of folks around our state who have now gathered almost 10,000 signatures of Mainers calling on our state legislature to debate a resolution calling for impeachment of Bush and Cheney. [Remember we only have 1.3 million people living in Maine.]

The photo above (if you click on the picture you get a better view) is of people involved in this campaign who went to Kennebunkport earlier this week and had the picture taken right in front of the Bush family compound at Walker's Point. (I am involved now in the organizing of a major New England regional protest march planned for this very same spot on August 25 which is the time George W. is expected to vacation here with his family.)

During his talk last night Swanson told how activists around the country have been going to the offices of media outlets and doing sit-ins to protest the lack of coverage of the impeachment story. So following the talk last night more than 50 of us marched down the street to the offices of the Portland Press Herald which had, once again, chosen to ignore another one of our local events. When we arrived at the office we were chanting "Impeach Bush/Cheney, Report the News". By this time it was about 8:30 pm. A janitor came out and told us the night reporting crew was in another building a block away so we marched over there and saw the news team sitting at their computers in a first floor office setting with a window open. So we began chanting again and pounded on their windows. This went on for some time and finally one of their staff came out to tell us it was private property. We ignored him.

We noticed two cop cars in the parking lot but the police made no move to shove us off. So we kept chanting, put impeachment and anti-war stickers on the front door of the building. Once we dispersed many of us went to a local bar for a beer.

While at the bar one of the organizers got a phone call from the newspaper saying we had frightened them and that they wanted to know why we had come to their office. They ended up interviewing three of the key organizers over a cell phone but nothing appeared in the paper today. We'll see if Monday's paper carries a story.

Everyone felt that the meeting last night was a historic event. The church, founded around 1650, has a rich history of having hosted important political events.

The church was the site of two events of significance to the anti-slavery movement in Maine. The first was the speech made by William Lloyd Garrison at the conclusion of his eight-day tour of Maine in the fall of 1832.

The other event of importance is the 1842 riot outside the church by pro-slavery supporters who attempted to prevent the militant anti-slavery speakers Stephen Symonds Foster and John Murray Spear from speaking. Stephen Symonds Foster suffered twenty blows to the head and had his coat torn in half. Luckily, he escaped out a back window assisted by the women of the Portland Anti-Slavery Society. After the women led Foster safely away, minister John Murray Spear attempted to leave by the front door believing the mob was done. Unfortunately, the mob’s fury was not spent, and he was beaten almost to death on the steps of the church.

So it was this spirit of history, and our current struggle to end the occupation of Iraq and bring Bush/Cheney to justice for their crimes against humanity, that filled us with a strong passion last evening. We all came away from the meeting feeling strengthened that we must press forward more determined than ever to hold our government accountable for their misdeeds.

Friday, April 27, 2007


On some level we are what we have been taught. When my son Julian was just a tiny baby I realized that virtually everything I did and said was absorbed by him like a sponge. What a tremendous responsibility it is to be a parent.

I've spent most of my adult life trying to decolonize my mind. Between my own Republican military family's influences and living behind the barbed-wire gates of military bases, watching the airshows and parades all through my youth, I have a lot of militarism inside of me to sift through.

My own father's alcoholism and violent explosions gave me more to deal with. Climbing under desks, preparing for the nuclear attack from the Soviet Union that never came filled my little brain with more distorted images.

Corporate branding has to be washed away. How can I ever forget watching my Saturday baseball games on TV as a kid and having the beer commercials drummed into my head - from the land of sky blue waters........

Or how about the book series I read as a kid - the We Were There series of patriotic American warrior stories. We Were There at Lexington and Concord, The Alamo, The Battle of the Bulge. And then John Wayne movies, The Rifleman, Combat, Gunsmoke, and other TV shows filling my eager and half empty vessel with violent and imperialistic images of America saving the world from the Nazis and Communism. And today kids are learning that in order to fight the evils of terrorism we must take extraordinary security steps here at home to ensure our protection - even if they shred the constitution.

So I have created an image for myself to explain how it happened - lift the lid on the head, pour, close the lid. The mind is now open for colonization. Please come right in and have a seat and make yourself at home.

So what is the reverse image for me? Lift the lid, stand on my head and drain the mind? Dig into the dusty file cabinets and corners of my brain and dental floss out all unwanted images? What about the hard to find mental plaque that is tough to get out? Is there a mind wash, like a mouth wash, that I can just use to rinse and cleanse my mind?

The bottom line is that I want my mind back. The corporate society might control everything around me but at least I can own my own mind. So I continue with my effort to decolonize my mind. It's a long rocky road home. I'm trying to enjoy the walk as best I can.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


There is a good editorial in my local paper, Times Record, today on the Star Wars issue. Good to see. You can read it by clicking on the link in the headline above.

This morning I got up early and drove to a high school outside of Augusta to speak at a program the school was sponsoring. It's a two-day teen issues event called Love and War and they have many different events planned during the program.

I was on a panel of four veterans who first watched the video Ground Truth with about 100 kids. Then each of us veterans spoke and answered questions. Two of us were against the war in Iraq and two of the guys supported it. The video was all about U.S. GI's talking about how they have been killing civilians in Iraq and when the two pro-war vets got up they called the video one-sided and said that in war sometimes you have to kill civilians. The other anti-war vet and I did a good job I think of laying out the arguments against the war and occupation. The audience seemed to split about 50-50 on the issue. It is quite alarming at how little most of these high school kids know about what is going on - especially when their necks are on the line and they will be paying for it the rest of their lives. We hope some seeds were planted.

The House of Representatives voted 218-208 today on the Iraq occupation supplemental bill conference committee report. Only 13 Democrats voted against it. According to the Washington Post, the bill sets a nonbinding goal of completing the troop pull out by April 1, 2008. Bush says he will veto the bill because it has the withdrawal language but all he has to do is ignore it anyway since it is only advisory.

I listened to some of the debate on C-SPAN and the Democrats were basically saying that their bill would do a better job of administering the occupation than the Republicans will. Not good enough for me.

A rally is planned in Portland and Bangor this Saturday by Win Without War, a Democratic party front group led by former Maine Democratic congressman Tom Andrews. The Democratic Party has been doing robo-calls all day to people in the Portland area begging them to turn out for the rally. At the rally they will attack Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for supporting the war and absolve our congressman Tom Allen, a Democrat, who has voted eight times now to fund the war. The Democrats are now unveiling a national strategy to attack Republicans for voting wrong on the war while the Dems have just voted to give Bush even more money than he asked for in the remaining months of 2007.
The Washington Post (April 26) ran a story entitled House Passes Iraq Pullout Timetable. They say, "To add pressure for a compromise, a coalition of liberal organizations, working in concert with Democratic leaders in Congress, is planning hundreds of rallies and dozens of news conferences to protest Bush's veto. Americans Against Escalation in Iraq [has anyone heard of this group before?] is organizing what it anticipates will be a historically large outpouring of sentiment against the Iraq war within hours of the president's veto, with news conferences just after the veto and 'signature rallies' -- some of which could draw thousands of people -- the next day in about 50 places represented by fence-sitting Republicans lawmakers."
This new Democratic Party effort in Maine is being organized by two organizations that have not been doing anti-war work in the past. The Maine People's Alliance and the League (formerly called The League of Pissed Off Voters) are both strongly allied to the Maine Democratic Party. Both these groups are now publicly supporting the Democrat's decision to fund the occupation thus cutting the legs out from under the peace community in the state that has been working hard on the war since before it began.

This is an indication that the Democrats are feeling the heat nationally and need some kind of public display of people saying they are the "real peace movement" and that those who have been sitting in the offices of congressional Democrats and criticizing their votes to fund the occupation do not speak for the "peace movement." So in their desperation to create a public relations victory around this Iraq occupation sell-out, the Democrats have just told the peace movement what they think of us. And what makes the Dems think intelligent peace activists will be anxious to support them in the future?
I am convinced that the peace movement has to be able to criticize either party as long as they continue to fund endless war. To make slaves of ourselves to any party, just so we can feel we are close to power, is a bad move.
We should remember that Martin Luther King had to put intense pressure on President John F. Kennedy to get him to support civil rights legislation. King was put under heavy pressure to back off the street protests in the south and let Kennedy take care of things in Washington. King refused and the pressure in the streets payed off in the end.
Politicians always want to relieve the pressure on themselves. The worst thing a movement can do is crawl into bed with either party - especially as we approach the 2008 elections. The Dems want to use the occupation as a hammer on the heads of the Republicans in the race for the White House.
The Democrats don't intend to end this war anytime soon. But they need to appear like they are trying.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I spent six hours on the street yesterday handing out leaflets letting the public know how our congressman just voted on the latest Iraq occupation supplemental. It was a beautiful warm sunny day, almost like we had skipped spring and jumped right into summer. The streets were filled with folks in shorts, sandals and T-shirts. As the day went on more of our friends turned out to help and by 4:00 pm we had about 30 of us holding banners and signs and distributing over 1,000 leaflets. One TV station came to cover our event which culminated with a speak out.

We set up a good portable sound system that was loud enough that people a block away could hear the speakers. I noticed people standing on corners across the street listening intently as different people talked about the lies being told to justify funding the occupation, the human and social costs of the Iraq quagmire, what it was like to have a son come home from Iraq with PTSD, the very personal reasons that motivate people toward action, and the need for the public to become engaged in this issue.
One young man who sat and listened to us asked if he could say a few words. He spoke movingly about a friend who had just married a woman whose brother had been killed in Iraq. Now the new husband was being sent to Iraq. A young boy about 4 years old, there in the park with his dad, also asked if he could speak and he declared into the microphone that "George Bush needs to stop this war." The shortest and best speech of the day I told the assembled.

As usual many people passed by and did not want to make eye contact or take a leaflet. But many others were quite eager to stop and smile and give a kind word. Once, while I was engaged in conversation with another person, a young woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked for a leaflet. That rarely ever happens.

When I first arrived with Karen Wainberg at noon I found it hard to get folks to take a leaflet. Then by 4:00 when we had a larger group handing out leaflets on every corner in the vicinity, it suddenly became easier to hand them out. There really was a herd mentality at work. People seem afraid to be seen as taking a leaflet from the lone protester. But when there is a larger number of people then it must be OK because so many others are involved.

It makes me take notice that courage is in short supply in America today. We need more political inquisitiveness and more political courage.
-For a larger readable version of the cartoon above just click on it.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


The Pentagon is set to test a satellite on Monday that is part of a program being run by the "Missile Defense Agency". The launch will take place from the NASA Wallops Island Facility in Virginia.

Official news releases say, "The Near Field Infrared Experiment (NFIRE) mission involves launching a four-stage Minotaur I rocket carrying a satellite to collect scientific data that will be used to help with the development of future missile defense technology efforts."

First off we have to always remember that "missile defense" is a ruse. The Pentagon sticks the word "defense" on their Star Wars program so the American people, when they might hear the words in between reality TV shows, do not get alarmed. "Oh," the people will say, "I don't need to worry about this because they are protecting us from the bad guys. Honey hand me another bag of chips."

All of these programs are now basically testing space technologies that ultimately will allow the Pentagon to locate targets in space, to hone in on the targets, and then to develop the ability to close on targets and destroy them. Sold as defense, the ultimate goal is offense.

All we need to do is recall the words from the Air Force Space Command's Strategic Master Plan: FY06 and Beyond. In the document the military says, "The ability to gain space superiority (the ability to exploit space while selectively disallowing it to adversaries) is critically important and maintaining space superiority is an essential prerequisite for success in modern warfare."

The document goes on to state, "Simply, we must be able to quickly subjugate any space capability any adversary can field while maintaining our own. This includes the infrastructure and enablers as well as the 'pointy end of the spear.'"

The bottom line is this NFIRE test is one more important step in testing the technology that will some day allow the U.S. military to place offensive "spears" in space. Thus preemptive attack on other nation's space assets will become a high priority for the Pentagon as they seek to "control and dominate space."

The Pentagon has long bragged that Star Wars will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet Earth. Virtually every Pentagon Star Wars space project is now many times over budget. Massive expenditures are needed to continue the research and development program for space weaponization.

Where will the funds come from? Medicare, Medicaid, education, public transit, environmental clean-up, and the like will all have to be cut back in the years ahead to pay for Star Wars.

The days of the Pentagon getting a free ride on "missile defense" programs must end.

Will you help us expand the consciousness of the public to call for an end to Star Wars research and development funding?

Friday, April 20, 2007


This morning I received an email from Global Network member Sung-Hee Choi who lives in New York. She tells the story and reveals the suffering of another Korean man who has just died. His death will not make headlines in the U.S. media.

Recent days are very hard for many Koreans. Needless to say, the violence by a South Korean student in the United States, that sacrificed many precious lives is already unbearably sad.

But for me, today's Korean news of the death of a taxi driver, Heo Se-Wook, 53, who self- immolated himself as a protest against unjust FTA and US base expansion in Korea, on April 1 during the mass protest of Anti US-SK Free Trade Agreement in Seoul just makes me mute. I can hardly express this feeling. He just wakes up many Koreans including me.

He was a SPARK (Solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea) member. An introspective, calm but with the most integral personality, he was one of the rare examples of the organic intellectuals whose origin was desperately poor working class. Never having the chance of high education, he was always poor and desperate for making living.

His life was changed in 1994 when he saw a woman activist beaten by police during the protest for the poor in Korea. Since then, he began to study himself on social justice, knocking the doors of the activist organizations, always in agony for what he could do best for the people whom he loved.

The news of his death was known today. All the SPARK activists who were so loved by him and loved him so much are in deep unspeakable sorrow.

I tried to find a English summary of it in their website but quite understandably, they had no spare for it. I can only guess how his act and death was shock and sorrow for them . I feel it is my responsibility to let you know the news even if this is a humble summary.

You can see his photo and Korean web video (click on link in headline above). His name was Heo Se- Wook, born in 1953. He was the person who never abandoned his integrity. He will live forever in many Korean's heart.

Thanks very much.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007


The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), a bloc of 72 members of Congress led by California Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee, have once again introduced their annual alternative budget that will get virtually no coverage in the mainstream media.

The CPC budget calls for an $86 billion cut in military spending and also calls for U.S. troops to be brought home from Iraq which would save us over $200 billion during the next two years.

Since we just had tax day in the U.S. we know the latest figures show that 51% of every tax dollar goes to the military (past and current Pentagon expenses). Human resources take 32%, general government costs 12%, and physical resources 5%.

Here in Maine our statewide share of the Iraq occupation is now $1.2 billion. That same amount of money could have provided 322,153 people in our state with health care. Quite a difference I'd say. (If you click on the link in the headline above you will be able to calculate your state's share of the war cost and get budget trade-off information from the National Priorities Project.) The peace movement needs to do more talking about how the money for militarism is leading to the disintegration of the human and physical infrastructure of America. People's programs are being defunded, roads and bridges are falling apart, community water systems are collapsing, etc...

I believe the plan is to dramatically lower the standard of living for the people in the U.S. We are not needed anymore except for "security export." We have superfluous populations today.

Cars and other products will be made in China. India will do certain things for the big corporations. On the story goes. So the last thing corporate globalization wants and needs is to have a well educated American people watching their nation collapse. Thus public education is being destroyed. Illiteracy in growing throughout the nation and a dumbed down public makes less demands on the corporate dominated government.

The top 1% of Americans, those with incomes in 2005 greater than $348,000, received the largest share of our nations income since 1928.

New figures reveal that the 300,000 Americans at the top of the pyramid now hold as much income as the 150 million Americans at the bottom. That is an oligarchy [a government which is in the hands of a few].

And when this is the case what jobs are their for working class kids? The military. Fighting endless war on behalf of corporate globalization.

In January I saw a story in USA Today called "The goal: Wealth and fame" about young people in America. The story said that 81% of 18-25 year-olds surveyed in a Pew Research Center poll said getting rich is their generation's most important or second-most-important life goal; 51% said the same about being famous.

The power of TV and other corporate media.

Robert Thompson, a professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University, says "The way to distinguish ourselves is by our stuff. In some cultures, you're born into a caste. Here, you have to carve out your identity, and one of the most obvious ways to do that is to climb the ladder."

I've become aware that the "reality shows" on TV are all about teaching scarcity. Last one on the island wins. A whole lot of folks have got the clear message that it's every dog for themselves out there and you'd better grab all you can before the next person does. The idea of a cooperative sharing society is being killed in the minds and hearts of the people. And if you want to climb the ladder you'd better keep your nose clean and stay out of trouble. Thus participation in politics is drying up as people internalize the message. Corporate media has colonized the minds of the public.

As I see it we have basically one way out from this. That is to wake up from our militaristic slumbers and begin to take Dwight Eisenhower's 1961 warning to us seriously. Beware of the power of the military-industrial-congressional complex. That's where the money is and if we don't reorder things soon our society is going down the tubes fast.

The peace movement needs to quickly find a soft spot in their hearts, and on their agendas, for talking about the need to convert the military industrial complex. We need to begin talking more about the long-term military strategy of the Pentagon and their weapons corporation bosses which calls for endless war to grab the world's diminishing resources. We need to begin finding ways to help the public understand that disinvestment in America's infrastructure will lead to a collapsed economy and a desperate people. The third-worldization of America.

We have to create a debate in this country that surfaces the concept of coming scarcity and the growing economic divide. Working class people understand this as they lose their jobs and find it harder to pay rent and put food on the table. Right now they are left with TV entertainment to give them and their kids vapid dreams of wealth and power. We need to bring the truth home to the people that only the rich are benefiting today and that the children of the working/middle class have little to look forward except a tour in Iraq with the Army. We have to demythologize the warrior culture.

We have to begin to talk about the good things that could be done with our tax dollars if we convert the military industrial complex.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


We were supposed to do our sit-in today in Portland but this is a photo showing how the city looked yesterday. Here in Bath we did not see any flooding but our electricity was out for most of the day and night.

We heard that we had the equivalent of a category 1 hurricane here.

It would be hard to hand out leaflets on the street today, not that anyone would be walking around.

So we are going to have to reschedule. I'm sure Tom Allen's staff will be disappointed.

But don't worry folks, we'll be back to let the people of Portland know that our congressman continues to talk out of both sides of his mouth.

When the congressman says, "I voted against the invasion in 2002. I will vote now to end it by supporting the Iraq Accountability Act with its benchmarks and timetables for redeploying U.S. forces from Iraq."

He knows he is lying to the people. He knows this bill allows Bush to waive all the restrictions and timetables. Allen knows that he is voting to give Bush more money than he even requested for 2007. Allen knows full well that this occupation of Iraq is not going to end anytime soon.

My mother always told me, "The proof is in the pudding."

This pudding, that the Rep. Tom Allen is supporting, is a lie. We will continue to remind the public that our congressman says he is against the war but keeps enabling Bush. You can't have it both ways.

Friday, April 13, 2007


In order to protest on-going funding for the U.S. occupation in Iraq, a third Congressional office sit-in is planned on Tuesday, April 17 at 2:00 pm in the Portland office of Rep. Tom Allen.

Rep. Allen maintains that he opposes the war in Iraq but has now voted eight straight times to support George W. Bush by giving him all the money that he has requested for the occupation. (Similar office sit-ins have also recently been held in the office of Sen. Susan Collins in Bangor.)

I will be one of those who will enter Tom Allen's office to sit-in. I will likely be arrested and intend to take my arrest to trial before a jury.

Rep. Allen, who is planning to announce that he will run against Maine's current Sen. Susan Collins (Republican), will be going around the state saying that he is against the war and that Sen. Collins must be taken out of office because she is in favor of the war and keeps giving Bush a blank check.

Rep. Allen's public posturing on this has been quite remarkable. I don't know how the man can sleep at night.

Here is what Tom Allen said in Congress when he voted for the 8th time to fund Bush's war. "Maine people expect us to say where we stand on the War in Iraq. By supporting the Iraq Accountability Act, I am voting to use the long-neglected powers of Congress to bring U.S. involvement in the Iraqi civil war to an end.”

Democratic party operatives are now setting up front group efforts in Maine who are posing as active peace people and who will be attacking Collins repeatedly on her support for the war. These operatives will be cynically saying that Tom Allen has always been against the war and if elected to the Senate he will help end the war.

The public is quite confused by all this posturing. While I strongly disagree with Sen. Collins on her war position at the very least she is somewhat honest in admitting that she supports Bush and the war.

Tom Allen though is doing something I cannot abide by. He is using anti-war rhetoric but at the same time enabling Bush. He and his party have no scruples when it comes to trying to achieve power. In many respects the Democrats have learned to model the deceptive character of the Bush administration.

It is my hope that there will be an Independent candidate to run against Collins and Allen in the 2008 Maine U.S. Senate race. The public needs and deserves to have an authentic anti-war voice in the race, someone who can cut through the bullshit and clearly articulate the need to cut the funding for the occupation of Iraq, using the $8.5 billion a month now being wasted there on programs here at home like national health care, education, public transit and the like.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


My dear friend Dave Webb from Leeds, England has been visiting us the last few days. He is the chair of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space and also serves as our web master.

Yesterday I interviewed Dave for my cable TV show This Issue. It was fun to have him on the show as I rarely get to interview anyone who knows much about space issues. We'll have the link to the show up on the Internet soon and you can watch it yourself.

Dave talked about what his group, Yorkshire CND, is doing to organize opposition to the two U.S. Star Wars bases at Menwith Hill and Fylingdales in his part of England. (Click on the link in the headline above to see the Yorkshire CND web site.)

Last night we had a pot luck supper for him here at our Addams-Melman House and then he spoke and answered questions. He talked about the serious disillusionment that progressives have in the UK with Tony Blair and the Labor Party over a whole series of issues. Obviously the Iraq occupation is one key concern but also the recent decision by the Labor Party to build a new generation of Trident nuclear submarine missiles, despite universal opposition in the country, has led to further outrage with the Labor Party. Blair is also offering to Bush that the UK would love to host U.S. "missile defense" bases.

As Dave said, here you have this supposedly Socialist Labor Party leader carrying water for this aggressive U.S. war making president Bush. He said British activists are in a state of disbelief over the whole thing.

I saw folks nodding their heads around the room as Dave spoke last night. It's clear that we in the U.S. are feeling the same things about the Democrats.

So there is a lesson to be learned here I think.

Most of the governments around the world have been taken over by corporations as part of globalization. Democracy is being set aside to the interests of the international oligarchy.

Under corporate globalization the Pentagon has said every country will have a different role. China will make things, Iraq will give up their oil, England will be Bush's lap dog, and the U.S. will do "security export."

Thus the U.S. Space Command becomes the military arm of corporate globalization. The U.S. Star Wars bases in Dave's back yard in Yorkshire, along with many others sprinkled around the world, will help create the ability for the military to see everything on the Earth, hear everything on the Earth, and ultimately target everyone and every place on Earth. Full spectrum dominance they call it. And all to the benefit of corporate globalization.

Anyone who dares stand against the oligarchy will be taken out in a preemptive strike.

Welcome to the new world order. Or should I say, welcome to the new world odor?

Monday, April 09, 2007


They say tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens took to the streets today calling on the U.S. to "quit" the country. That expression was the one that Gandhi used in India during the campaign to have the British "quit" their colonization. In the end Gandhi was successful. In the end the Iraqi's will drive the U.S. out of their country. The only question that remains is how many more must die and how much more money must be wasted until the inevitable happens.

I read with interest a quote from some U.S. military brass in Iraq about the protest. He said that the protest goes to prove that the U.S. has brought democracy to Iraq. They couldn't do this four years ago he maintained. Ugh.

Today I went to Portland to offer support for a group called Maine Lawyers for Democracy as they held a news conference to call for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. The group, made up of 65 lawyers across the state, did a good job of articulating the strong legal case to support impeachment. They called on the Maine legislature to pass a resolution supporting impeachment and they requested Maine's congressmen also support impeachment in the House of Representatives.

After the news conference some of us went out on the street to gather signatures on an impeachment petition that will be presented to Maine politicians. The goal is 10,000 signatures and so far over 6,000 have been gathered. (See the web site linked in the headline above.)

While I was on the street I ran into Jon Hinck who was just elected to the Maine State House of Representatives in the last election. I had interviewed him a couple of years ago on my cable TV show. At that time he was working at the Natural Resources Council and I interviewed him about environmental issues.

Hinck defeated the only Green Party member in the Maine legislature after the Portland newspaper did an extended trashing campaign to get the Green member, John Eder, ousted.

I asked Hinck, a Democrat, to sign the petition and he refused and then we had an intense 15 minute discussion about impeachment and the occupation of Iraq. His basic position was that our "strategy" was all wrong and that we needed to back off, stay quiet, and let Bush just collapse on his own weight. He said organizing against the war and calling for impeachment was a mistake because it only gave "right-wing radio" the ammunition to organize against us.

When I asked him if he meant that the Democrats were just intending to lay back and use the anger against Bush to take the White House in 2008 he said yes. He told me "you people are nuts" to criticize the Democrats around the war and impeachment.

He told me that criticizing our local congressman Tom Allen, because he keeps voting to fund the war, was a mistake. He said that Rep. Allen is against the war. When I asked him to explain how Allen's votes to fund the war were different from our Republican senators Snowe and Collins he maintained it was different though he never gave me any solid reasoning as to how they were different.

This very emotional, but restrained, conversion between us was a real wake up call for me. It confirmed that the Democrats have absolutely no intention of ending the war. And probably most importantly, it told me that the Democrats have absolute contempt for the peace movement as we push them on this war. They think we are nuts.

They think we are nuts because they believe that we are their minions. They think we should blindly vote for them because they are the Democrats and we have no other choice. They think we are nuts because we publicly criticize their deception. They think we are nuts because they could never imagine themselves standing up in public to take a moral stand on the Iraq occupation.

For them it is a purely political equation. No heart and no morality is involved.

To me this is confirmation that the Democratic Party is a bankrupt political institution.

Friday, April 06, 2007


The theme for today is submerged democracy.

What this means is that despite the raging opposition to Bush and his illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq the Democrats keep enabling the mess to continue.

For example, Nancy Pelosi says that impeachment is off the table. In response (see the photo above) citizens turned out by the thousands in her district on a San Francisco beach to call for impeachment hearings.

Pelosi, supposedly the liberal who was going to change things once the Dems took power, had this to say yesterday in the New York Times: "There is no division in policy between us and President Bush -- be it on Israel, Palestine or Syria," Pelosi told reporters at the Damascus Airport after concluding her meetings with Syria's president.

One can only assume she refers to Iraq too as we watched her recently lead the $124 billion war supplemental through the House. Many arms were twisted to make sure that funding for Bush's war continues. (Fortunately for us in Maine Rep. Mike Michaud from the 2nd district was one of the few with enough courage to vote against the war funding bill.)

Here in Maine, in today's Portland Press Herald, we see the leader of a liberal social justice group criticizing Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for voting against the Democratic party war funding bill in the Senate.

Jessie Graham, executive director of the Maine People's Alliance, was unhappy with the senator's vote.

"We were disappointed last week that Senator Collins, when given the opportunity to vote for legislation that provided funding for the troops in Iraq as well as a plan for withdrawal, voted nay," Graham said.

The Maine People's Alliance (MPA) has not been involved in anti-war work in Maine during the past four years that I have been here. But just recently the group has been holding news conferences around the state to support the Democratic Party position on the supplemental bill that just passed. They've taken out TV ads to blast Sen. Collins (who is a total war supporter) for not voting with the Dems.

But the truth is that the MPA's champion, Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) who is planning to announce next month that he will be running against Collins for her senate seat, has his hands deep in the pasta.

Rep. Allen just voted to fund the $124 billion Iraq occupation supplemental. In fact he's voted eight straight times to fund Bush's war. So he is doing the very same thing that he, and the Democratic Party controlled MPA, criticize Sen. Collins for doing - supporting the war. The truth is that both Collins and Allen are wrong!

This is how the public has become so cynical. Real discussion, real debate, real democracy, real differences have been submerged. Political integrity has been drowned. You have organizations like MPA that say they are against the war now undercutting the peace movement in Maine by going out and supporting politicians who keep voting to fund the war. And they do it because they want the Dems to take power. That's all that matters.

So the truth gets submerged. It gets destroyed in the process. And groups like MPA become agents of politicians and give up their roles as representatives of the people. Maybe they do it because they get extra funding to support the Dems. Maybe they do it because they think they will have a "special relationship" with the Dems.

Either way, in the end, what happens is that the movements to end war become fragmented and the public becomes very confused about what is going on. And few want to publicly speak about the confusion for fear they will be accused of being disloyal to the Democrats.

Howard Zinn said it very well last week after MoveOn sold out the peace movement by coming to the aid of the Democrats just before the vote on the $124 billion supplemental. Zinn wrote, "When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them. We who protest the war are not politicians. We are citizens. Whatever politicians may do, let them first feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not for what is winnable, in a shamefully timorous Congress. Timetables for withdrawal are not only morally reprehensible in the case of a brutal occupation (would you give a thug who invaded your house, smashed everything in sight, and terrorized your children a timetable for withdrawal?) but logically nonsensical. If our troops are preventing civil war, helping people, controlling violence, then why withdraw at all? If they are in fact doing the opposite—provoking civil war, hurting people, perpetuating violence—they should withdraw as quickly as ships and planes can carry them home."

The Democrats, MoveOn, and MPA say withdraw sometime in late 2008. But in fact, at this very moment, the Democrats in Congress are working on the fiscal year 2008 supplemental for Iraq and they want to provide Bush with $145 billion.

The occupation of Iraq will not end until the truth can surface in Maine and around the nation. A submerged democracy is a dead democracy.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


During my recent trip to Germany for the Global Network conference I arrived early and went for a quick visit to meet with activists in Southern Germany who have for years protested at the headquarters of the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) in Stuttgart. Global Network leaders Bill Sulzman and Loring Wirbel (in photo above) also went along for this visit.

After a meeting with the Deputy Mayor of Stuttgart (who is a Green Party member) the German activists took us out to EUCOM for a walk around the perimeter of the base to show us the new security measures that have been taken. For years the activists have cut holes in the fence and walked onto the base to protest EUCOM's role as coordinator of all U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe.

EUCOM has also recently been involved in creating the new U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, which will be in charge of organizing U.S. plans to start a war there during the next 20 years so the U.S. can control the oil in Nigeria and other vital resources on the continent. (See the article from the EUCOM website linked in the headline above that announces the AFRICOM mission.)

While we were walking around the EUCOM base I had the idea that the three of us American activists should approach the front-gate and make a statement. So Bill, Loring, and I walked up to the gate and the only American we could find was the woman dressed in combat fatigues you see in the photo. All the rest of the gate guards were Germans from a private security corporation. The woman told us she was in the Ohio National Guard and her whole unit was in charge of doing security on the base because all U.S. military police from this base had been sent to Iraq. She too, once finished at this base, would be going to Iraq next she said. We gave her a leaflet prepared by the German activists which calls for all American soldiers to honor Nuremberg Principles that maintains it is the duty of soldiers to resist illegal and immoral orders. She read the whole leaflet right in front of us.

We also told her that we wanted to make a statement to her superiors so she got on the phone and the base Provost Marshall came out and we told him we were American activists and had come to support our German friends who wanted this base shut down. We said that the presence of U.S. weapons of mass destruction in Europe violated international law, as determined by a ruling of the World Court, and needed to be removed pronto. We also said that the U.S. occupation of Iraq was illegal and immoral and U.S. troops must be returned home. We ended by saying that we knew AFRICOM had just been created out of Stuttgart and was intended to direct endless war on the African continent.

The Provost, the man in the photo dressed in black, at first was quite hostile when I began making our statement. He tried to interrupt me but I told him to relax and to give me a chance to speak. As I went along he became more docile as he listened to the strong indictment of U.S. policy. In the end he took the leaflet we had given to the woman soldier and said he'd pass on our statement to his commander. The woman had folded the leaflet up and appeared reluctant to give it to the Provost. We were glad she had read it before he arrived.

In the end we shook their hands and left. I felt the young woman was quite impressed by the whole episode and I think she will long remember the day the three American activists approached the gate and told the U.S. military to close the base down.

I was glad I was wearing my Veterans for Peace button at the time.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Click on the cartoon to get a larger version that you can read.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Ok I admit it. I have a diversion from the madness of the world. Baseball season begins today and my Baltimore Orioles, that I have followed all my life, will now commence to put me through another season of pain and agony.

The O's, once a great team, have had losing seasons nine years in a row and this year is expected to be the tenth. But a loyal fan sticks with the O's - through thick and thin. Mostly thin.

I have extravagantly ordered the Major League Baseball web-TV package for $80 and I can watch all the games live via the Internet. So on many evenings this summer I will be found sitting at my desk agonizing as the O's drop another game. Mary Beth will come into my study and ask, "How are the boys doing?" though we both know that in truth she doesn't really care. What she really wants to know is "what kind of mood are you going to be in when this game is over?" Sadly to say, the mood is often sour.

I don't yell as much as I used to. I've grown used to the team taking it on the chin. Now I just moan, groan, and grouse a lot.

I also spend time on the Baltimore Sun fan chat room reading the posts of other long-suffering fans. Two years ago I got tired of the complaining and began sending posts suggesting the fans organize and complain that the owner was not spending enough of the millions in profit the team was accruing from it's loyal fan base. Much to my delight, at the beginning of the 2006 season, the fans did get organized and purchased a large billboard calling for the owner to sell the team. I donated to that cause. The Baltimore Sun ended up giving the billboard campaign front-page coverage on the first day of the season last year.

Later in the season, again much to my delight, a local radio sports talk show host got the fans to do a march to the stadium dressed in black. Hundreds joined the march, bought tickets and went inside and sat in the same section. The cheered wildly for the team, and then at the appointed moment filed out of the stadium in single file in protest of the rich owner who has destroyed the beloved Orioles.

This past winter, after many years of empty promises, the owner did make some worthwhile moves to improve the team. The lessons for the fans, and for the Baltimore community, is that organizing and making demands can have an impact.

I know some would say what a waste it is for fans of a sports team to spend time organizing. But I come from the old school that says go to the people where they are and get them working together. Let them learn to organize collectively, to have some success, and to feel proud in that effort. The truth is that baseball fans have to spend a lot of money these days to take their families to the games. Let the rich owners feel some heat from the fans who want a return on their dollar. I am in favor of class struggle, even if it manifests itself in baseball.

And for this fan, maybe the O's might win a couple more games this year. I know Mary Beth will like me better if the boys pick up a few more in 2007.

Go O's.