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. @BruceKGagnon

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Things in the presidential horse race are lining up pretty much as one might expect - from a corporate perspective anyway.

The decks are being cleared to limit debate and blur focus. The remaining "viable" candidates now include John McCain who says we will be in Iraq for 100 years, Hillary who I once saw on "Face the Nation" saying "The American people need to relax, we are going to be in Iraq for a long time," and Mr. Obama who is now being "sold" to the public as the change agent. I still maintain that Hillary will be the Democratic party nominee and her choice for vice-president will be Obama. Don't expect anything from them. This thing is being scripted.

Kucinich supporters in Maine are feverishly sending emails around urging each other to still stand for him in the up-coming Maine caucus. The progressive Dems, as they call themselves, have a real challenge now to justify staying in that corrupt party. But most of them will likely find a way to do so as they delay the inevitable reality that their party is now a corporate appendage and virtually nothing more. Kucinich is being shoved out of the party for having dared run for president and speaking out against the Iraq occupation, for single-payer health care, and for impeachment. The Dems will now do to Kucinich what they did twice to Cynthia McKinney - run corporate controlled and "acceptable" candidates against him.

As an organizer I have a very practical question. How do we use this presidential campaign to keep our key issues in front of the American people? Hillary-Obama aren't going to do it.

I can only come back to Cynthia McKinney and her run for the Green Party nomination. We know that she will have the ability to bring peace activists, social justice activists and people of color together in a serious issue campaign. How can we ignore that?

We've reached the edge of the cliff in America. The corporate goons are ready to give us a push. Should we still be standing there debating whether the Democrats are going to come save us or dig in and save ourselves?

We have been playing defense much too long. The time has come for us to play their game on our terms.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


The things that stood out most in Bush's last (thank god) State of the Union speech last night were the ties he and Cheney were wearing. One was red and the other blue. Someone gets paid to coordinate their wardrobe.

Nancy Pelosi had on a faded purple dress and alternated from jumping up and clapping for various Bush statements, particularly the ones about we are going to kick terrorists behinds, to then slumping down in her seat looking bored and half asleep.

After the speech it was very interesting to see Bush work the line of Republicans and Democrats asking for his autograph on the booklet containing his speech. "Look honey, I got the autograph of the worst president in the history of the country! How much do you think it will be worth on e-Bay?"

For those of you who didn't watch here is what you missed:

Bush promised the nation he would "stay on offense" which of course means more war.

The economy is entering a period of "uncertainty." Thus Congress should make "tax relief" permanent for the rich.

He threatened Iran again.

He pointed out our "hero troops' in the audience.

We are "spreading the hope of freedom" around the world. This of course means we are using our military to bust the chops of countries not submitting to the authority of corporate globalization.

Then he smiled his way through a mind numbing list of his old standards:

  • "No child left behind" is the greatest thing in the world.
  • We need privatization of education so our kids can learn to read.
  • More free trade agreements signed (he nodded his thanks to the Democrats).
  • Faith based volunteerism, or as he called them "Armies of Compassion", will solve our social problems. Everything gets militarized these days, including our compassion. Be sure to snap to attention and salute before you hug anyone or hand them food at the local soup kitchen. And don't forget to say, "Sir Yes Sir" instead of "you are very welcome."
  • Our poor Pentagon needs more money because all their toys are broken from the noble war in Iraq.
  • More stuff like that but I ran out of room on my note pad.

Watching the speech with me was a former Navy officer who was assigned to Aegis destroyers during Bush's "shock and awe" invasion of Iraq in 2003. This particular person, now thankfully out of the Navy, was the officer on the deck when her ship launched the first cruise missile used in the attack. She told me it was routine to drive the Navy ships (always in a convoy) through the Straits of Hormouz and when they did it was "standard operating procedure" for Iran or the United Arab Emirates to scramble little boats that would watch the U.S. Navy ships. She became quite animated talking about how Bush "blew out of proportion" the recent incident as a way to demonize Iran.

It is always very interesting to see a person, who has had a personal experience otherwise, recognize how a politician is misleading the nation. This young former Lieutenant will be forever changed by that experience.

So all in all the whole Bush speech was a bore and another sad moment for America.

Why don't we ever see one Democrat stand up and say, "Bush you are full of shit!" That would be the real state of the union.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I listened to Obama's South Carolina victory speech last night. Quite a big win over Hillary. Near the end of the speech, in one very interesting phrase, he dropped something that I thought will be important to watch. After using the word change about 400 times during the bulk of the speech, just near the end, he tempered it all by saying something to the effect that "change would be slow to come". No one noticed as they were madly waving their campaign signs with the word CHANGE emblazoned on them. Is he sending a signal to the powers that be that he will not get "out of control"?

His new slogan is Yes We Can (Si Se Puede). Maybe it will morf into Maybe We Can or Sometimes We Can, or Slowly We Can. Let's watch how it goes.

I went to a Maine Veterans for Peace retreat at the Chewonki Foundation on Friday night and all day Saturday. We slept in a yurt that was heated by a very small wood burning camp stove and we took turns in the middle of the night stoking the fire. The place actually stayed quite warm. We had a nice meeting, elected Dud Hendrick as our new president, and reviewed several projects that are now underway. We also watched a really excellent film called Soldiers of Conscience. I'd highly recommend it.

One of our upcoming projects is a March 11 Congressional Candidates Forum on Military & Foreign Policy that will be held at the public library in Portland. We have six candidates Democrats running for the First Congressional District seat nomination and the top five of them have agreed to come to the event. Jack Bussell from Maine VfP and I have been organizing the forum and we now have a dozen peace and justice groups from across the district co-sponsoring it. It should give us a great opportunity to see how the candidates deal with each other and these important issues in front of a big audience.

Today we are having a pot luck supper at our house. We are going to start a regular monthly potluck on the 4th Sunday here. Sometimes we will have a speaker, sometimes music, sometimes a video, and other times just chat with each other. We've had a great response to the idea. It seems to be snowing south of here and that might impact attendance as one friend from Kennebunk sent an email saying she would not likely come as a result of the weather.