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

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I am writing from Mary Beth's room in Florida Hospital in Orlando using my sister Laura's laptop. The kidney operations went very well yesterday and both patients are doing very well today.

Mary Beth is up and walking around a bit and just ate a regular meal. I would say she will be out of here in 24-36 hours and then we will go to her brother's house in Sarasota, Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. We have to hang around Florida for 9 more days as the doctors want her close so they can check her out before we return home on Dec 9. Obviously she is still very sore and has a way to go.

My sister Laura, now in the Intensive care ward, is doing very well with her new healthy kidney. Doctors are already saying she is ahead of schedule and she is showing signs of her old happy and playful self. Many of her friends were in the waiting room during her surgery and on Saturday they are playing a party of sorts for her in her hospital room.

The hospital is totally on wifi so have been able to keep up with email while here.

Last night MB and I watched the Republican debate from Florida. This evening we've been watching news coverage of that debate. The most memorable moment in the debate for me was when Rudy Giuliani said that he'd deal with America's massive debt by doing across the board cuts in all government agencies. He also said he'd enact a hiring freeze and not replace retiring workers. "One worker could then do the job of two or three people, just like the corporate world is doing," he said. That one got my attention. Wage slavery I think they call it.

The experience here of seeing MB get incredible care reinforces my belief in the need for national health care for all - single payer health care. MB has a very bad and expensive health care plan in Maine. Luckily Laura's health coverage is paying for the entire kidney transplant. But it makes me think of all the poor and working people out there with no medical coverage. (People like me for example. I've had to drop my health insurance because it has gone up 20% each year for the past 4 years and why pay so much for a $15,000 deductible? It was basically worthless to me.)

We now have 48 million people in the country without any health care today. That is totally unacceptable. Sadly, no one outside of Dennis Kucinich in the presidential horse race is talking about true national health care.

The public must come alive and rattle their chains while they still can. The sheep must come alive.

Monday, November 26, 2007


The Bush family compound at Walker's Point in Kennebunkport, Maine now has a windmill. They expect to provide all their electricity needs with the windmill and sell excess generating capacity back to the power company.

My first reaction when I heard of this is that the Bush crew knows that the crash is coming and are preparing for it. They know that oil prices are going to skyrocket and that there are going to be more and more electrical power interruptions. Maybe their plan to attack Iran has motivated them to put the windmill in as many people are predicting that the attack would lead to severe disruptions of oil flow to the U.S.

Anyway you cut it the truth is that the rich are preparing themselves for the coming economic hard times. They can afford to make these changes while most working class and poor people will be left to their own devices.

We all need to be calling on our state and local governments today to invest in alternative power technologies now while they can. If they have any questions about the practicality, just have them check with the Bush family in Maine.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Mary Beth (left) took off for Florida today where she is scheduled, on Nov 28, to give my sister Laura (right) a kidney. Laura has been suffering from kidney disease for many years and was told last year that she needed to find a donor or face a future of living on dialysis machines.

Laura asked me if I'd consider giving her a kidney and I immediately said yes. We discovered that our blood would not be compatible. Then Mary Beth thought it over and offered to be checked out as a suitable donor. Amazingly she turned out to be a perfect match for Laura. After extensive tests, which all came back positive, the operation was set.

I will head to Florida on Nov 27 to be there in time for the operation. After a couple days in the Orlando hospital for recovery Mary Beth and I will travel further south to Sarasota to stay at the home of her brother for more recovery time. The doctors need to see Mary Beth 10 days after the operation to ensure that everything is in working order. We expect to be back to Maine again on December 9.

It's a big deal to give someone one of your organs while you are still alive. Mary Beth has done an extraordinary job of preparing herself mentally and spiritually for this gift giving. Being that she is doing it in order to literally save my sister's life makes it even more special.

I should be able to post on the blog while down in Florida. My role will of course be one of nurturing and supportive after care.

Keep Mary Beth and Laura in your prayers.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


By Robert Jensen

One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.

In fact, indigenous people have offered such a model; since 1970 they have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a spiritual/political ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas.

Not only is the thought of such a change in this white-supremacist holiday impossible to imagine, but the very mention of the idea sends most Americans into apoplectic fits -- which speaks volumes about our historical hypocrisy and its relation to the contemporary politics of empire in the United States.

That the world's great powers achieved "greatness" through criminal brutality on a grand scale is not news, of course. That those same societies are reluctant to highlight this history of barbarism also is predictable.

But in the United States, this reluctance to acknowledge our original sin -- the genocide of indigenous people -- is of special importance today. It's now routine -- even among conservative commentators -- to describe the United States as an empire, so long as everyone understands we are an inherently benevolent one. Because all our history contradicts that claim, history must be twisted and tortured to serve the purposes of the powerful.

One vehicle for taming history is various patriotic holidays, with Thanksgiving at the heart of U.S. myth-building. From an early age, we Americans hear a story about the hearty Pilgrims, whose search for freedom took them from England to Massachusetts. There, aided by the friendly Wampanoag Indians, they survived in a new and harsh environment, leading to a harvest feast in 1621 following the Pilgrims first winter.

Some aspects of the conventional story are true enough. But it's also true that by 1637 Massachusetts Gov. John Winthrop was proclaiming a thanksgiving for the successful massacre of hundreds of Pequot Indian men, women and children, part of the long and bloody process of opening up additional land to the English invaders. The pattern would repeat itself across the continent until between 95 and 99 percent of American Indians had been exterminated and the rest were left to assimilate into white society or die off on reservations, out of the view of polite society.

Simply put: Thanksgiving is the day when the dominant white culture (and, sadly, most of the rest of the non-white but non-indigenous population) celebrates the beginning of a genocide that was, in fact, blessed by the men we hold up as our heroic founding fathers.

The first president, George Washington, in 1783 said he preferred buying Indians' land rather than driving them off it because that was like driving "wild beasts" from the forest. He compared Indians to wolves, "both being beasts of prey, tho' they differ in shape."

Thomas Jefferson -- president #3 and author of the Declaration of Independence, which refers to Indians as the "merciless Indian Savages" -- was known to romanticize Indians and their culture, but that didn't stop him in 1807 from writing to his secretary of war that in a coming conflict with certain tribes, "[W]e shall destroy all of them."

As the genocide was winding down in the early 20th century, Theodore Roosevelt (president #26) defended the expansion of whites across the continent as an inevitable process "due solely to the power of the mighty civilized races which have not lost the fighting instinct, and which by their expansion are gradually bringing peace into the red wastes where the barbarian peoples of the world hold sway."

Roosevelt also once said, "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth."

How does a country deal with the fact that some of its most revered historical figures had certain moral values and political views virtually identical to Nazis? Here's how "respectable" politicians, pundits, and professors play the game: When invoking a grand and glorious aspect of our past, then history is all-important. We are told how crucial it is for people to know history, and there is much hand wringing about the younger generations' lack of knowledge about, and respect for, that history.

In the United States, we hear constantly about the deep wisdom of the founding fathers, the adventurous spirit of the early explorers, the gritty determination of those who "settled" the country -- and about how crucial it is for children to learn these things.

But when one brings into historical discussions any facts and interpretations that contest the celebratory story and make people uncomfortable -- such as the genocide of indigenous people as the foundational act in the creation of the United States -- suddenly the value of history drops precipitously and one is asked, "Why do you insist on dwelling on the past?"

This is the mark of a well-disciplined intellectual class -- one that can extol the importance of knowing history for contemporary citizenship and, at the same time, argue that we shouldn't spend too much time thinking about history.

This off-and-on engagement with history isn't of mere academic interest; as the dominant imperial power of the moment, U.S. elites have a clear stake in the contemporary propaganda value of that history. Obscuring bitter truths about historical crimes helps perpetuate the fantasy of American benevolence, which makes it easier to sell contemporary imperial adventures -- such as the invasion and occupation of Iraq -- as another benevolent action.

Any attempt to complicate this story guarantees hostility from mainstream culture. After raising the barbarism of America's much-revered founding fathers in a lecture, I was once accused of trying to "humble our proud nation" and "undermine young people's faith in our country."

Yes, of course -- that is exactly what I would hope to achieve. We should practice the virtue of humility and avoid the excessive pride that can, when combined with great power, lead to great abuses of power.

History does matter, which is why people in power put so much energy into controlling it. The United States is hardly the only society that has created such mythology. While some historians in Great Britain continue to talk about the benefits that the empire brought to India, political movements in India want to make the mythology of Hindutva into historical fact.

Abuses of history go on in the former empire and the former colony. History can be one of the many ways we create and impose hierarchy, or it can be part of a process of liberation. The truth won't set us free, but the telling of truth at least opens the possibility of freedom.

As Americans sit down on Thanksgiving Day to gorge themselves on the bounty of empire, many will worry about the expansive effects of overeating on their waistlines. We would be better to think about the constricting effects of the day's mythology on our minds.

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and the author of, most recently, The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Lights, 2005).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Now that is what I would call a great non-violent direct action!

Students at the University of Florida, where I went to school in Gainesville, did a great action last Monday night as Alberto Gonzales came to spread his corrupt garbage before the student body. It's obvious that Gonzales is now going out on the speaking circuit trying to "make some money" off his years of destroying the Constitution. It was reported on NPR that he was paid $40,000 for the speech and did not take any questions from the audience.

Click on the link in the headline above for the video version of this action. Also, there is an article from the student newspaper, The Alligator, that is quite good.

It's good to see G-ville is standing for more than just sports these days (the University of Florida Gators were the national champs in college football and basketball last year).

So Go Gators! Keep it up. We need ya now more than ever.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Each year the Space Command performs a war game set in 2016. In that war game the new military space plane, the Falcon, flies across the planet at six times the speed of sound and delivers 12,000 pound bombs against the "Red" team. Red team means China in Pentagon language.

The Falcon, a reusable "hypersonic vehicle," would cruise at 28 miles above the Earth and would also be able to deliver 1,000 pound penetrator bombs and independent "kill gliders." Bottom line is that the Falcon would be a first-strike attack weapon.

The fact that the Space Command is now rehearsing a first-strike attack on China should cause alarms to be going off. At the same time the Navy is deploying Aegis destroyers just off the coast of China outfitted with "missile defense" systems. Just in case China was to launch one of its 20 nuclear weapons capable of hitting the U.S. west coast during the Pentagon's first-strike attack, the Aegis system's job would be to pick the Chinese nuke off right after launch.

This new "global strike" technology development is all being coordinated by StratCom in Omaha, Nebraska that is now in charge of the Space Command and all first-strike planning.

A first flight test of the Falcon is scheduled for next year.

Monday, November 19, 2007


I've been working on our Global Network newsletter, Space Alert, the last week. We collected articles from key members in the U.S. and around the world. It's being laid out now and should go to the printer on Friday and then to mailing house on Monday. It's always a big task to get it done but I think it will be an interesting issue.

Much of the newsletter of course centers on reports from activists who have been working hard to deal with the space technology issue. It is quite remarkable the work that is being done to educate folks about the new arms race in space and you can see the expanding international movement right before you eyes. It does give one some sense of satisfaction and pride, even if hope is a bit farther down the road.

As I step back and look at the newsletter, and the U.S. foreign policy that is driving the use of space technology, virtually all the major tensions and conflicts are related to fossil fuels. There is no escaping this reality. The way we burn energy in this world, and particularly in the "first world," creates the need to control and dominate.

The fact that Germany and France, with their new right-wing governments, has come onto Bush's side concerning the likely attack on Iran illustrates this reality. Even though those countries are doing so much more than the U.S. to invest in energy conservation and alternative technologies, their economies are still largely run on fossil fuels. Thus they play hardball with Bush.

Some parts of the world are not in the game at all. And frankly they are better off for it. In some senses they are more able to deal with the coming economic grind that will hit the U.S. when our totally energy dependent lifestyle hits the wall. Our local papers, even in recent days, are signaling a near panic at the highest levels of Maine governing bodies as working class and poor people are now not able to afford the 20% increase, since last winter, in the cost of home heating fuel. There will be some real pain in Maine this winter.

I've been trying to sell my car lately but the bites are few as most people are not in the buying mood. Money is tight and folks are hanging onto what they've got. Soon, I think, we'll see more creative adaptations as you see in the photo above.

Hang onto your hats. The winds of change are blowing strong.

Friday, November 16, 2007


The people in Poland and the Czech Republic are increasingly agitated as the Bush administration presses forward with plans to deploy "missile defense" systems in their countries.

It took these citizens many years to get rid of the Soviet occupation and now they see their right-wing governments cutting deals with Bush to allow the U.S. to become the new military occupier in their country.

On November 17 there will be a national demonstration in Prague, Czech Republic denouncing plans for deployment of the U.S. radar base. Czech citizens are demanding the right to a national referendum as 68% of the people there are opposed to the U.S. radar facility that will make them a target as tensions increase between the U.S. and Russia.

The Union of Security Forces of the Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic will join the national demonstration for Democracy that will take place in Prague. The Union comprises hundreds of policemen, firemen, customs officers, prison guards, judiciary security personnel and former workers of Czech public security forces. This is evidence that the opposition to the U.S. radar is spreading deep into Czech culture.

Solidarity protests are planned in many cities including Rome, Milan, Madrid, Barcellona, Athens, Budapest, Paris, New York and Buenos Aires.

Others around the world are sending letters to Czech embassies in their country. I faxed a letter on behalf of the Global Network last night to the Czech embassy in Washington outlining our support for the November 17 protest in Prague.

Our best wishes to our friends in Poland and the Czech Republic. We stand with you all the way.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Not enough troops in Iraq? Don't worry the Pentagon says. We've got the latest invention deployed there now. Don't have to feed it or worry about forking over disability funds when it returns wounded or with PTSD. The robot killer does what it is told and saves the taxpayer money in the long run.

So sure we'll bring some troops home from Iraq. But we'll replace them with our fancy new robot killer toys. Just put a soldier in a safe place with a computer screen in front of them and by remote control we can make Iraq safe for democracy and free markets. Killer capitalism we call it. Get used to it.

The House of Representatives yesterday passed, by a vote of 218-203, an Iraq war funding bill giving Bush more money for the occupation.

The Washington Post reports that, "The House measure, called the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act, grants $50 billion for the war on the condition that Bush redeploys most U.S. troops from Iraq beginning 30 days after the measure's passage, and ending by Dec. 15, 2008."

"It would ban the White House from using federal funds to establish permanent bases in Iraq [Congress long ago funded the construction of these bases and they are now largely built] or assert U.S. control over Iraq's oil supply. It would prohibit the president from deploying any military unit to Iraq until he has certified it in writing to be fully mission capable."

Bush has vowed to veto the bill.

David Swanson, an impeachment campaign leader, wrote today "Organizations and individuals who fail to criticize this new funding vote will relinquish the right to criticize the occupation of Iraq..... What peace pledge? What Out of Iraq Caucus? What Progressive Caucus? What opposition party? The silence of millions of Americans who have demanded an end to funding for the past year or for the past five years is absolutely deafening. It's the sound of our tombs. Speak now, people, or forever forget about peace."

Swanson continues, "UPDATE: 15 Democrats voted No: Allen, Baird, Barrow, Boren, Cooper, Kucinich, Lampson, Marshall, Matheson, McNulty, Michaud, Snyder, Stark, Tanner, Taylor. Only Kucinich and Stark were among the 90 who had signed the peace pledge. The other 88 lied to us."

"UPDATE 2: Over in the Senate, not a single Democrat is willing to filibuster this war money, although dozens of them whine and moan about the war non-stop. Their latest plan is to give the Republican pro-war senators a giant microphone by 'forcing them' to actually talk all night if they filibuster the bill. So many senators, so little intelligence. And the party-before-sanity crowd is cheering for this."

Two of those 15 Dems that voted NO are from Maine. Rep. Tom Allen, who is now running for the U.S. Senate seat in Maine, has routinely voted for every Iraq funding bill up to now. He is trailing in the polls and is worried about losing the "left" vote. So his vote yesterday opposing this war funding, while commendable, is clearly an election year ploy on his part. Nothing new there. The other Maine congressman, Mike Michaud, has been regularly voting against more Iraq funding. Neither of them are willing to support impeachment of Bush-Cheney.

Like Swanson I am stunned that all those "good liberals" like Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, Barney Frank, and the rest of the lot just didn't show up on this vote. Once more we learn - don't trust a Democrat who says we need to stop funding the occupation. They always have a good reason to cave in.

All the more reason for me to throw in with Cynthia McKinney who is running for the Green Party nomination for president. I know that when she says something she means it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


The Washington Post is reporting today that, "The economic costs to the U.S. of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so far total approximately $1.5 trillion, according to a new study by congressional Democrats that estimates the conflicts' 'hidden costs'-- including higher oil prices, the expense of treating wounded veterans and interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the wars."

"That amount is nearly double the $804 billion the White House has spent or requested to wage these wars through 2008, according to the Democratic staff of Congress's Joint Economic Committee. Its report, titled The Hidden Costs of the Iraq War, estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have thus far cost the average U.S. family of four more than $20,000."

"The report argues that war funding is diverting billions of dollars away from 'productive investment' by American businesses in the United States. It also says that the conflicts are pulling reservists and National Guardsmen away from their jobs, resulting in economic disruptions for U.S. employers that the report estimates at $1 billion to $2 billion."

Sadly, the very same Democratic party that commissioned the study will soon hand Bush-Cheney even more money for the Iraq-Afghanistan occupations and the ballooning Pentagon budget. Here-in lies even more evidence of the very cynical strategy of the "party now in power" as they disclose to the American people their intention of doing nothing to stop the chaos that they so strongly lament.

These weak-kneed Democrats stand back rubbing their chins and wringing their hands in grave concern but do nothing to hold the Bush pirate team accountable for their crimes against international law and humanity as a whole. They are doing their level best to kill the national campaign for impeachment.

Thankfully the peace movement is not sitting back waiting for Godot. People are protesting locally in record numbers, getting arrested as we saw in Boston yesterday when 18 Veterans for Peace were locked up for standing with gags over their mouths in protest of once again not being allowed to participate in the Veterans Day parade in that community.

In Olympia, Washington demonstrations continued against shipments of military cargo through the Port of Olympia. Activists were pepper sprayed by police as they tried to block military trucks hauling equipment to Fort Lewis after it was unloaded from a ship carrying the gear back from Iraq. More than a dozen have been arrested in recent days.

Even in conservative St. Augustine, Florida folks held a Veterans Day die-in to protest the war. Our 96 year old friend Peg McIntire, with a sign on her walker that said "Granny for Peace", was right in the middle of the action.

People are stretching themselves to go beyond their normal protest boundaries which is just what we need as our nation descends deeper into fascism and endless war.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Our Maine Veterans for Peace chapter walked today in the annual Veterans Day parade in downtown Portland. Last year they tried to keep us out of the parade and it caused quite a stir in the local paper. Watching the clowns, uni-cycle riders, Girl & Boy Scouts, and other assorted entries in the parade made me wonder how the right-wing veterans groups that organize the event can justify their presence while wanting us out.

Year after year we have about the largest contingent of veterans in the parade. Quite a few folks applaud as we walk by. I saw about 6-8 older guys today turn their backs on us as we passed them by on the street. In one instance it was two guys with "Vietnam Vets" hats on - I'm sure they want to be proud of their time in that war and we remind them that "their war", just like the current one, was illegal and immoral.

Veterans for Peace in the Boston area held a great action when they were denied the right to participate in that parade and 18 were arrested. See the moving video here:

On another matter, today the Washington Post ran a story called Pakistan Nuclear Security Questioned. This is a very important article because they seemed to be floating a trial balloon when they mentioned in the article, "Protection for Pakistan's nuclear weapons is considered equal to that of most Western nuclear powers. But U.S. officials worry that their limited knowledge about the locations and conditions in which the weapons are stored gives them few good options for a direct intervention to prevent the weapons from falling into unauthorized hands."

The last few words really got my attention, "direct intervention to prevent the weapons from falling into unauthorized hands."

I've been toying with a wild theory the last few days. What if Bush-Cheney had told Musharraf to crack down on democracy advocates knowing that chaos would ensue? (Many people in Pakistan are now calling their "leader" Busharraf because they say he is under the control of the U.S. administration.) Then after martial law is declared, and the society erupts as it now has, we start seeing articles like the one today in the Post saying that the nukes in Pakistan are in danger of falling into terrorist hands. So what does that leave us to do?

Could it be that the Bush administration intends to widen the chaos beyond Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran and Pakistan? Take a look at the map and see how this all lays out.

I know what your first question is: Ok, Bruce, how would the U.S. be able to put enough troops on the ground to control all of this?

The guy that was Donald Rumsfeld's "strategy guy" has an answer to your question. Thomas Barnett, the futurist, and former instructor at the Naval War College has been laying out the answer for some time now. In a recent article called How our military evolves in this long war he says, "In my 2004 book, The Pentagon's New Map, I argued that our military would inevitably split into a Leviathan-like combat force and a 'system administrator' [sysadmin] force optimized for everything else: postwar stabilization and reconstruction, nation-building, crisis response, and counter-insurgency."

" Eventually, all these sysadmin activities will require a bureaucratic center of gravity. In my 2005 book, Blueprint for Action, I proposed a new agency to complement our departments of 'war' (Defense) and 'peace' (State). I wasn't the first and won't be the last to issue that call. Indeed, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani proposes creating such an independent agency -- serious political progress in its own right."

"Every year I address the student body at National Defense University's Industrial College of the Armed Forces, briefing the strategic concepts from my books. Well, this year the students are engaging in a 'senior leadership capstone exercise' in which they'll brainstorm how to go about creating a new Department of Global Development that aims to win both the prewar and postwar in this long war against radical extremism."

"That gets me to my last sign of progress: the emergence of industry players associated with the sysadmin's rising profile. Last year Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense corporation, acquired Pacific Architects & Engineers, a long-time contractor to the U.S. State Department. PA&E is essentially State's version of Kellogg Brown & Root, the Pentagon's premier contractor for overseas base construction and support services."

"Lockheed's purchase was a shot across the bow of the entire defense industry, signaling its historic decision to focus more on serving the U.S. military's ballooning postwar portfolio. Within a generation, I predict Lockheed will evolve from being primarily a U.S. defense firm to operating as a global security contractor -- less Leviathan and far more sysadmin."

Can you imagine the Pentagon invading and taking over country after country (Iran, Pakistan, Venezuela, etc) and then turning it over to the State Department who then contracts with Lockheed Martin to literally "run" these countries - sysadmin - to the benefit of the oil and weapons corporations? Welcome to the New World Order.

You take a countries resources by then hire Lock-Mart to run the show and pay them from the oil profits. Lock-Mart makes money off the weapons used to destroy the country and then they make money "rebuilding" and "running" the country for the global corporate elite.

Far fetched?

Hang on for the ride folks. Only time will tell.

As the Indians used to say though, put your ears to the railroad tracks and hear the train coming.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


The price of gas in Maine has jumped quite a bit in the last week or so. It's now starting to make folks stir and just maybe reflect some on our collective future.

Our price per gallon is still much lower than what people in other countries are paying. In Europe they are spending the equivalent of $6-$8 a gallon. We've still got it easy in comparison but then they also have more public transit options than most of us in the U.S. have.

Here in Maine we have virtually no public transit. There is a Amtrak train that runs south from Portland to Boston but other than that forget it. Our state government is still spending the vast majority of our transportation funds on building more and wider roads. That won't do anything to help us deal with the steadily rising cost of gas.

Old timers in Maine talk about the days when they had trains connecting virtually every town in the state. You didn't need a car to get around. Then after the car was invented the automobile industry bought up most of the trolley systems across the country and shut them down so that people had to rely on the car.

I just can't imagine how people driving big fat trucks and SUV's can afford to put gas in them anymore. It must cost $100 to fill the tank. How long can they hold out at those prices before they have to get rid of their gas guzzlers?

How long will it be before most people can't afford to put gas in any kind of a vehicle? And when that day comes how will they get to work?

Years ago, in 1980, a friend and I started an organization in Orlando, Florida called The People's Transit Organization (PTO). We were urging Central Florida governments to stop spending all of our transportation money on roads and instead expand the public bus system and put light rail throughout the region. They told us we were nuts - people love their cars they said. We got a list of the 25 busiest traffic intersections in Orange County and held large signs at these spots for months. The signs said: Tired of Waiting at this Light?, Price of Gas Out of Sight?, We Need Mass Transit Right? We got a great response from the public and soon the politicians were putting pictures of themselves standing at the city bus station on their campaign brochures. Within a couple of years the City of Orlando doubled their bus system. Their public transit system there has grown dramatically since, though still not good enough to meet all the current demand.

We've all got to start talking more about the need for public transportation in our communities. We are hearing alot of stories about senior citizens who can't afford to drive a car anymore as they live on fixed incomes and worry just about paying for their heating bills or food. There are working people that can't afford to get to work. They need someone to advocate for them.

People in the peace movement could do a better job of connecting these issues. We should talk about how public investment in mass transit will help reduce the need for endless war for oil and will also go a long way in helping relieve some of the current pollution that is helping to cause climate change. Imagine the jobs created as we re-connect states like Maine with rail systems again.

We are long overdo for this kind of change.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Yesterday afternoon about a dozen of us from the Maine Campaign to Impeach held banners on both sides of the overpass of U.S. 1 in Bath. We went at the time when there is a shift change at the Bath Ironworks shipyard so we had a huge viewing audience.

I was actually surprised at the positive response we got from the cars that drove by over the next hour and a half. I'd venture to say that about 50% of the cars that passed either honked, waved, or gave a thumbs up. Of course we got some negatives too but not nearly what one would have imagined.

With the Kucinich maneuver to bring impeachment to the House of Representatives it was a good time to hang the banners. With help from Republicans, who admittedly want to call the bluff of the Democrats on impeachment, the Kucinich bill has now been sent to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings. The committee is chaired by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) who has long been an advocate of impeachment - that is until the Dems took control of the House in 2006. Since he became the committee chair he has echoed the words of Nancy Pelosi that "impeachment is off the table."

So the current strategy is to write Conyers and other members of the Judiciary Committee to demand hearings because they could just kill the Kucinich bill in the committee by saying they don't have time to get to it - other business is more important.

So this is where we come in. We need to send messages to Conyers and to the Judiciary Committee demanding they move on impeachment hearings. Check the list of Judiciary Committee members to see if any from your state are on the list and contact them as well.

We need to create some positive energy around this now. Please help.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I just returned from a breakfast meeting between Cynthia McKinney and some Green Party leaders in Maine. Cynthia has now made it official that she is running for the Green Party nomination for president. She is traveling the country to meet with Green Party members in order to secure their support and build a national campaign.

For the last four years I have been registered in Maine as no party preference. I call myself an Independent voter. At the meeting today I said I would immediately change my registration to Green Party in Maine in order to be able to support Cynthia's run for the presidency.

I've said before on this blog that I am an unconditional fan of Cynthia McKinney. I've followed her courageous career in the U.S. House of Representatives for many years. I used to watch C-SPAN in awe as she took to the floor of the House and said things few others would ever say about what our country was doing. She, long before Dennis Kucinich did, introduced the first impeachment resolution in the House. The Democrats became tired of her speaking truth to power and they helped to get her run out of her House seat in Atlanta, Georgia. The next term she ran again and got her seat back. Then the Dems turned around and ran her out again. Now she is free to speak the truth even more clearly and she is doing it.

McKinney will be focusing on jobs in a green society in her campaign. She told us today about having just visited with the Austria Green Party where they are turning their country into a model green society in order to deal with global warming. Cynthia talked about how people could be put to work learning to build green structures, repairing America's declining infrastructure and creating sustainable technologies instead of bombs.

That is just what we need to be hearing from someone running for president.

Cynthia defined winning as helping to build the Green Party into a viable alternative party in the U.S. that gives the future generations some place to go for political expression and change. Her ability to attract women, people of color, and disaffected Democrats and Republicans will surely provide the Greens the kind of boost they have long needed. How many times have I heard activists ask how do we develop connections to the black community so we can work together? Now is our chance.

For me the whole campaign makes total sense. Mary Beth and I gave Cynthia a $100 donation, which for us is alot of money. We see it as a good investment in the future.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Today I spent a couple of hours working at the voting polls here in Bath gathering signatures on a petition calling on the Maine congressional delegation to speak out now and forcefully against Bush's impending attack on Iran. We will have had volunteers there from morning til the polls close at 8:00 pm.

Our local group, PeaceWorks, is doing this in several towns in our MidCoast Maine region today.

The response from the public was better than I had expected. I had little trouble getting people to sign the petition or take the leaflet that we had prepared on the subject.

Earlier in the day we taped my public access cable TV show on the same subject - an Iran attack. We turned the tables and had one of our PeaceWorks leaders, Rosalie Tyler Paul, interview me. Usually I do the interviewing. Eric Herter produces my show, which is called This Issue, and is now editing it and putting maps of Iran and photos of everyday Iranian life into the final product.

The attack on Iran will likely be done with hundreds of cruise missiles fired from Aegis destroyers that are built right here in the town of Bath at the local shipyard. They cost about $1.2 million each and would hit thousands of targets that have already been identified by U.S. Navy and Israeli military personnel. We know this because last year a friendly Navy officer told us these meetings were underway at the time. This person knew about this because they had direct contact with a person in the meetings.

The Washington Post reported on November 1 that former Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld had earlier instructed administration officials to "keep elevating the threat" and "link Iraq to Iran" as a way to build support for an attack.

A really remarkable article in Esquire magazine (October 18 issue) called The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran That the White House Doesn't Want You to Know is a must read. It clearly reveals how the Bush crew has been, one more time, preparing for war and demonizing Iran while refusing to negotiate with them in a serious way when they have offered to discuss key issues without any pre-conditions. The sources in the article are former right-wing Bush officials. Whistle blowers.

We all need to do more now to stop an illegal and immoral attack on Iran. People at the polls today understood the insanity of an attack but they feel desperate. I told people that U.S. citizens have to take responsibility for what is being done in our name. We can't be good Germans and act like nothing is happening.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is set to pull some maneuver in the House of Representatives on Tuesday and bring impeachment to a vote.

According to David Swanson, the impeachment organizer at, "He [Kucinich] is going to introduce a privileged resolution on the floor of the U.S. House Tuesday morning to force a vote on his resolution to impeach Cheney (H Res 333). While that bill includes offenses related to Iraq and Iran, Kucinich plans to focus his remarks on Iran and the fact that the current Pentagon bill includes funding to retrofit bombers to carry 15-ton bombs."

"He said that there might be an actual debate on the substance of the charges, for which he said he was prepared, or there might be a motion to table the matter (effectively killing it if successful), or it might be referred to a committee."

My guess is that his effort won't get far in the Democratic party controlled House where Nancy Pelosi has said "impeachment is off the table." But I strongly applaud Kucinich for trying and at the least maybe it will force a vote so we can get these politicians on the record on impeachment. If there is a way though to kill Kucinich's bill without a vote I'm certain the Dems will do it.

I called my congressman's office in Washington today to show support for the Kucinich bill (H Res 333). The congressional staffer on the phone knew the bill number when I called so that must indicate they were getting enough calls for them to take notice.

According to Kucinich, "While the impeachment movement has generated intensely strong sentiment and activism, there have been only two polls published on the question of impeaching Vice President Cheney. In a national poll, 54 % of Americans favored impeachment. In one state poll, 64 % of Vermonters favored impeaching the Vice President."

Some folks think impeachment is a dead issue. The truth though is the campaign is still alive and well out across the country.

Defending the constitution is a full-time job for activists these days. Don't quit now.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Dominican Sisters, Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert, spoke in nearby Brunswick last night and showed their excellent documentary video called Conviction. The video tells the story about their 2002 nuclear disarmament action at a Minuteman missile silo in Colorado. They, and one other nun Jackie Hudson, ended up doing more than 30 months each in prison.

I've known the sisters for several years now and they live, when not in jail, at the Jonah House intentional community in Baltimore that was founded by Phil Berrigan and Elizabeth McAlister.

Ardeth and Carol have been instrumental in helping to educate people around the country, and the world, about the dangers of moving the arms race into space. Their 2002 plowshares action was called the Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares II.

Ardeth was a speaker at our annual Global Network space organizing conference in Berkeley, California in May of 2002. I will never forget part of her very moving speech when she said, "We are a killer nation. We can kill them fast, and we can kill them slow."

We will be very honored to host these two courageous women at our Addams-Melman House here in Bath tomorrow for a pot luck supper. They are once again able to travel and are back on the road doing what they do best - that is calling on people to do more to stop this deadly cycle of endless war and threatening to use nuclear weapons. Their power lies in their own personal example of speaking truth to power in a loving and non-violent spirit.

They clearly point out the total hypocrisy of the U.S. as our country lectures and attacks others for even thinking of building nukes while new generations of nuclear weapons are today under development in the U.S. Department of Energy nuclear laboratories sprinkled around the nation.

Long live the disarmament nuns!

Friday, November 02, 2007


Readers of this blog know that from time to time I mention my favorite band, The Kinks, which has been broken up for the past several years. Their genius singer/songwriter, Ray Davies, has a new album out and sadly it is not available in the U.S. yet. It was distributed free in the British Sunday Times a couple of weeks ago which has spurred a big load of publicity for the CD.

And now the BBC has a link on their web site to a concert Ray did very recently in London which includes several of the new songs and many of his old hits.

Most people don't know much about Ray or The Kinks but when they start listening they recognize many of his songs.

Ray is known for his biting social commentary, excellent story telling, and great British humor in his music.

Here is a link to one of my favorite Kinks songs, No More Looking Back.

Enjoy the music.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Tuesday night I was driving to a meeting in nearby Brunswick and had the radio tuned to National Public Radio (NPR) - or National Petroleum Radio as many people call it these days.

The daily business program called Market Place was on and they did a long story about Hugo Chavez in Venezuela having the audacity to "funnel oil revenue funds into social programs." They made it sound as if Chavez was doing some illegal or immoral thing by taking the profits from Venezuela's oil and helping the poor with them.

They interviewed various "oil analysts" who speculated at what point Venezuela's national budget would go into debt if the price per barrel of oil was to drop below a certain point. The experts concluded that if the price of oil dropped below $50 a barrel then Chavez would not be able to continue with this dastardly deed.

This morning the price of crude oil was $96 per barrel. With diminishing supplies of oil around the world it is very unlikely that prices will be dropping, especially as low as $50. So the whole NPR story, built around this theoretical price drop, was a phony. The whole story was intended just to create more antagonism toward Chavez and Venezuela for doing something that we don't do anymore in the U.S. - and that is using national resources to help the poor.

My god, imagine the bad example Venezuela is setting by helping people get medical care, education, jobs, decent housing and food. Chavez must be vilified and National Petroleum Radio has joined the cause.

Expect more of the same in the near future.

[On Nov 11 I got the following email from Andi Sporkin at NPR]


I wanted to point out an error in your recent posting on the public radio program "Marketplace" and its piece on Venezuelan oil revenue."

Marketplace" is not produced nor distributed by NPR. It is a production of another independent public radio production company, PRI, and some public radio stations choose to air it either as a stand alone program during the day or as an insert in NPR's "Morning Edition" program. NPR has no control over the subjects it covers nor its reporting. I've attached a link to "Marketplace" for your information. I'd appreciate you correcting your posting.

Andi Sporkin NPR