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

Friday, July 04, 2008


Thursday, July 03, 2008


Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Here in north Florida you will find lots of Spanish moss hanging from the trees - especially the old oak and pecan trees. It is a haunting and beautiful site and in the winter, when the trees have shed their leaves, the moss is even more spectacular.

The memorial service for Peg McIntire on Monday night was attended by a couple hundred people from all over. The pot luck supper, with lots of pasta, had a line a mile long and there were more desserts than anyone would want to imagine. Lots of her favorite red wine too.

During the program Mary Beth and I were invited to speak about Peg. I concluded by saying that Peg did more to stretch herself outside her normal boundaries - her box - than anyone else I have ever known. I urged everyone to honor Peg by thinking about how they could push beyond their usual boundaries. Some of St. Augustine's best musicians also sang Peg's favorite songs. The whole event, held on the beach at the covered city pier, was a moving experience. We saw a couple young people who had years ago attended the summer youth peace camps I organized while working for the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice. One of the young women, Cara Jennings, is now an elected city council member in Lake Worth, Florida.

We are staying in Peg's condo on the beach and hanging out with Peg's son Jo and his wife Sali. They are both active in Cuba solidarity work and have over the years organized many delegations of people to go to the forbidden island. Sali told us they mostly take Republicans from St. Augustine who have come back and become advocates for an end to the economic blockade of Cuba.

We head back to Maine on the train, leaving from Jacksonville, on Thursday afternoon. We'll arrive in Boston and pick up our car and drive home. During the July 4th weekend our town of Bath will hold their Heritage Days celebration so we will be in the park at those events gathering signatures opposing Maine's participation in the Homeland Security program called "Real ID."

Monday, June 30, 2008


Mary Beth (MB) and I got on the train in Boston on Sunday morning at 6:40. We stayed at her brother John’s house in Boston the night before and her aunt Debra picked us up early at his house to take us to the train station.

As Debra dropped us off at Boston South Station the fog was still hanging in the air making it a moist morning. Many homeless people were sleeping at the entrance to the train station, reminding me of India where hundreds of people would pack themselves up against each other on the train station ramps.

Outside of New Haven, CT the train sat idly on the tracks for some time and we later learned that we had to give one of our locomotives to another train whose engine had died.

All through New England there are legions of empty old faded red brick factories with boarded-up or broken windows. An old friend from American Beach in Florida, MaVynee Betsch, called them ruins. (American Beach was the only black owned beach in the Southeast during segregation and there were once thriving hotels, juke-joints, BBQ pits, and more. Since integration the beach was largely abandoned and had fallen into ruin. Rich white golfing communities began to surround the decaying American Beach and wealthy white women, power walking on the beach, would complain to MaVynee about the “run down” buildings. MaVynee told one woman, “You white folks travel all the way to Europe to see the ancient ruins, well these are our ruins.”) Indeed they are.

Entering Philadelphia and Baltimore poor black neighborhoods were strikingly reminiscent of Latin American poverty zones.

The signs of disinvestment and disintegration of the human and physical infrastructure of the nation are quite visible from a seat on Amtrak.

Just about the only thing sparkling new that I saw from my seat on the train was the razor wire surrounding a jail just yards from the railroad tracks.

By the time we got to New York City our train was running so far behind that it was clear we’d miss our transfer to our Florida-bound train in Washington DC. Suddenly the Amtrak porter ordered us to grab our belongings and he led us up one stair and down another to a faster train on a neighboring track. Once we had made the move MB and I discovered we had forgot our food, which had been stored under our seat, and I had left our cell phone in the seat pouch. I hope whoever found it will handle our calls.

I was reading the new book JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why it Matters by James Douglass. I heard about it from Bishop Thomas Gumbleton at our Global Network conference in Omaha last April.

The book outlines the CIA’s key role in the Kennedy assassination and gives detailed evidence that JFK’s behind the scenes communications with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev about ending the Cold War, and his documented efforts to begin U.S. troop withdrawals from Vietnam, had inflamed the military industrial complex against him.

It becomes evident that the resulting coup d’ etat has put on-going control of our government in the hands of a “secret government” – as we see today with Bush-Cheney.

The unseen government within our government is full of CIA operatives who work throughout the bureaucracy but swear loyalty, not to the American people, but to the shadow government - which basically translates to the corporate powers who now run everything.

These powers tell Bush-Cheney they want Iraq’s oil and then the mission is carried out. They say they want to cut social programs so they can build more big ticket, high-tech, weapons and it gets done. They want an Iran attack - it gets done. I highly recommend the book.

It puts the 2008 “elections” in perspective as we now see Obama head toward the right. Does the shadow government “allow” anyone to get a major party nomination for president who has not been fully vetted and shaped?

We arrived into Jacksonville, Florida this morning about 1-½ hours late and Al Geiger was waiting for us. Al took us to his family farmhouse where for three generations his Quaker family has maintained the homestead. Model T cars and trucks are stored in a weather worn barn, birds of all varieties swoop down onto the feeders just outside the kitchen window – as I write this I am watching a red-bellied woodpecker chase away other birds. Daughter Wendy Clarissa tells me she reads this blog regularly so I thought I’d say a special hello to her today. Wendy is a long-time devotee of the civil rights and non-violence movements.

Tonight others from the Jacksonville area will come here to the Geiger farm and we will all pile into Al’s Honda van for the 50-minute drive south to St. Augustine. This evening a huge potluck supper and celebration will happen to honor the life of Peg McIntire. In the meantime a nap and a shower are in order for MB and I.

I realize I miss seeing the moss hanging from the trees.