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

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Sung-Hee Choi from South Korea sent us this photo of her mother, her 97 year old grandmother and a friend making kim-chee. Fifty cabbages from her father's garden went into making the traditional Korean dish. Sung-Hee promises that when the Global Network meets in South Korea next April 16-18 for our annual space organizing conference that she will make 100 different varieties of kim-chee. We probably won't hold her to that promise.

Today three of us from our house went to a local church to learn how to make interior window insulation panels. We made three for our house and one for the church. All together it took about four hours of work. After our recent home energy audit we were told we have the equivalent of a four square foot hole in our house so these window panels will help close some of that gap. The problem is we have about 40 windows in our big house so at this rate we should have them all finished by 2015 or so.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


This turkey was pardoned. Actually a friend in northwest Florida sent me this photo of a wild turkey on their land out in the country.

Today housemate Karen and I drove out to a local organic farm and got an 18 pounder for our Addams-Melman House dinner tomorrow. We are expecting about 17 people. Family and friends to celebrate what is one of my favorite holidays.

I love turkey. My father was a chicken and turkey farmer in Maryland before he met my mother. He was a back to nature kind of guy. No TV and other trappings of wealth and comfort. A humble and simple man. When he married my mom he spiced the place up but she quickly grew tired of the farm life and got him to sell it. He was never the same after that.

I love Thanksgiving because I love the fall. I love family and friends coming together to share with one another and the fact that we are not buying a bunch of presents that people don't need makes it even better.

I like the idea of Thanksgiving, giving thanks for all our blessings. Giving thanks to the Mother Earth, to the wind and the sun and the water. To the plants, trees, animals and more. It's sad that our industrial, techno society loses touch with all that. Thanksgiving reminds me of what evil things we did/still do in this country to Native Americans.

Housemate Maureen's mother died yesterday and she was down in Cape Cod to be with her when it happened. She is back now in time for Thanksgiving.

Karen has been down in Florida for the past six weeks helping a lifelong friend pass on from cancer. She came home for Thanksgiving and her friend died yesterday as well.

So our house is filled with a spirit of reflection and appreciating life. We are thinking about all those we love, near and far away, and sending them our best.

My favorite musician Ray Davies (The Kinks) wrote a song called Thanksgiving Day while he was living for a time in New Orleans a couple of years ago. You might check it out here.

I send Thanksgiving greetings and blessings to all of you out there. However you spend the day, if you do at all, I wish you the best.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008


President-elect Obama's team today leaked that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (on the right) will stay on in his administration. Gates has long-standing ties to the Bush crime family.

This is the change people voted for?

How will be Obama apologists explain this one?

I know, I know, Obama has a secret plan that he will spring on us at just the right time. I've heard it all before.

This whole thing is looking worse every day......

Google the Crown family in Chicago.....General Dynamics weapons corporation and early Obama supporters.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I sent around a letter today to our Global Network contacts in the U.S. inviting people and/or organizations to sign-on to a letter I have written to President-elect Obama urging him to reject Bush's "missile defense" deployments for Poland and the Czech Republic.

So far I am getting an excellent response.

If you live in the U.S. and would like to have your name/group on the letter let me know at right away.

Be sure to include your city/state along with your name and organization.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I just read a profound piece by Chris Hedges about the more than 42 million Americans, 20% whom are high school graduates, who cannot read.....50 million read at a 4th or 5th grade level. He lays out a frightening but real case about how this "post-literate society" can be easily manipulated by politicians and political campaigns that rely on images, slogans, entertainment, and distortions of the truth in order to keep people in a state of illusion and amnesia. Hedges says, "We prefer happy illusions....We confuse how we feel with knowledge."

Maybe the most radical thing someone can do is become a volunteer for the local literacy society.

Last night I went to hear Jim Scott sing at the Unitarian Church in Brunswick. I worked with Jim back in the late 80's and early 90's when we came to Florida to participate in our peace pilgrimage that walked from the Florida-Georgia border south to Cape Canaveral. Over the years Jim would sing at various protests we held at the space center calling for an end to the militarization of space. Jim, former guitarist for the Paul Winter Consort, has traveled the nation for years playing and writing songs about peace, the environment, and the spiritual side of life. It was a real pleasure to see him again after so many years. He had been living in the northwest but has moved back east to Massachusetts and comes up to Maine now and then.

This morning I heard from another old friend from Florida, Tom Levine, who I knew when I lived in Orlando 15 years ago. Tom, a real character, ran for city council while I was there and had the best homemade campaign signs ever. I remember one that really got the public's attention - "Save Water, Shower with a Friend." I used to put his signs in my front yard but a city worker who lived in the neighborhood kept taking them down....that was life back then in conservative Central Florida. Tom has a new book about the unrestrained development that has ruined Florida. He is calling it Paradise Interrupted.

One way the progressive community can do a better job in communicating our message with an increasingly illiterate public is through music and the use of public art. We all need to think about that and talk with local artists about how we can involve them in finding creative ways to "talk with folks."

Saturday, November 22, 2008


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Friday, November 21, 2008


Last night our local PeaceWorks group hosted an event at Bowdoin College in Brunswick that featured two activists associated with the Beehive Design Collective. The group of young folks, who are based in Machias, Maine, describe themselves this way: "The work of the Beehive Collective has three major facets: the Hive is appreciated internationally for its educational graphics campaigns, at a regional level for it’s stone mosaic murals and apprentice program, and locally for it’s dedication to the revitalization of the old Machias Valley Grange Hall, a landmark building in our small, rural town. The Hive has been going and growing since 2000, at full speed!"

In the talk last night the bees detailed how their creative and intricate artwork is designed to show the reality of corporate attacks on the natural word. Their art work does not feature humans, instead bees, flies, ants, and other animals are the victims and heroes that are in danger from "civilization and progress" and are fighting to dismantle the industrial system that is destroying all life on the planet.

The corporate monoculture, whether in farming, forestry, education, media, legal system, or politics, is laying waste to the future by colonizing our minds, the Earth's resources, and our cultures.

The enormous graphics that the Beehive Collective create, always with a theme and part of a larger education and action campaign, weave together the evils of militarism, resource extraction, agri-business destruction of the land, privatization of water, and more. And in the middle of it all you find the smallest of insects working away trying to bring back hope and the natural order.

They also spoke last night about a new corporate plan called Atlantica which is a NAFTA-style trade zone. Atlantica would include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Eastern Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.

According to the newly formed Maine Atlantic Watch, "The proposal for Atlantica focuses on 'deep integration' of the economies of New England and the Canadian Maritimes that would occur by building massive trade infrastructure throughout the Atlantica region. Deep integration of Atlantica would also involve 'harmonizing regulations,' creating regional trade agreements and laws that would override existing local rules, threatening home rule and democratic principles of local self governance. Atlantica infrastructure projects include the proposed private East-West Toll Highway through Maine, Super-Ports that could accommodate 'Post Panamax' cargo ships able to carry enough cargo to fill over 20 miles of tractor trailer trucks end to end, biorefineries that could process cellulose ethanol from genetically modified trees, pipelines to carry oil and natural gas, new nuclear power plants and the mines for the uranium power them. The framework also promotes liquefied natural gas terminals, new waste dumps and incinerators, and new oil refineries."

The corporate world is mortgaging (define as death grip) our future. In other words the plans are BIG biz-ness without borders.

It was a quite inspiring presentation and the work that goes into the Beehive's graphics is just stunning. Everyone should take a good tour of their website.

In the end the evening was a great reminder to me about why we do our political work. We don't just organize to make life better for the humans. We are now losing hundreds of plant and animal species each year due to the way we live. We all need to become one of the bees.

Resistance to monoculture and industrialism! That is the change we need to be fighting for.


Veterans for Peace member Mike Ferner reports that, "Two enormous banners hung on a 90-foot scaffold [at the National Archives in Washington DC] by six members of Veterans For Peace, one member of Military Families Speak Out, and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War a little after 8 am, Saturday, November 15."

"The eight had slipped unnoticed around a construction barrier and climbed up the scaffolding, completely unnoticed. It was fairly easy that day to grab the element of surprise since finance ministers and heads of state from around the world were in Washington to propose they could do something about the global financial meltdown. Dozens of official motorcades, each guarded by scores of police, barreled up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, whisking officials to morning meetings that seemed to alternate between one end of that avenue and the other."

"We never know. We just never know when something like this will turn into a spark and really catch. We just keep doing what we can, and lo and behold, one time something aligns in the stars or catches in peoples' minds, and what was just another valiant little effort turns into something no one saw coming, something we never expected."

Thursday, November 20, 2008


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Wednesday, November 19, 2008


* Did you know that a South Texas (Willacy County) grand jury has indicted V-P Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County's federal detention centers. The indictment criticizes Cheney's investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees by working through the prison companies. Gonzales is accused of using his position while in office to stop an investigation into abuses at the federal detention centers.

* Speaking of attorney generals, President-elect Obama has appointed Eric Holder as his Attorney General. Holder served as the number two top official in the Clinton Justice Department. Holder will have to give up his lucrative corporate law practice at Covington & Burling where he is currently a defense lawyer for Chiquita Brands international in a case in which Colombian plaintiffs seek damages for the murders carried out by the AUC paramilitaries - a designated terrorist organization. Human and labor rights lawyer Dan Kovalik reports that, "Chiquita has already admitted in a criminal case that it paid the AUC around $1.7 million in a 7-year period and that it further provided the AUC with a cache of machine guns as well. Indeed, Holder himself, using his influence as former deputy attorney general under the Clinton Administration, helped to negotiate Chiquita's sweetheart deal with the Justice Department in the criminal case against Chiquita. Under this deal, no Chiquita official received any jail time. Indeed, the identity of the key officials involved in the assistance to the paramilitaries were kept under seal and confidential. In the end, Chiquita was fined a mere $25 million which it has been allowed to pay over a 5-year period."

* On November 17 the No Bases organization in the Czech Republic held another protest in Prague opposing the deployment of a U.S. Star Wars radar facility that would be used to help the Pentagon develop a first-strike capability against Russia. More than 600 people joined the protest. Green Party Member of Parliament (MP) Kateřina Jacques showed up with an American flag to express her support for the U.S. radar deployment. And you thought the Greens were supposed to be the good guys!


* During the recent pirate high jacking off the coast of Somalia a familiar face was caught on film. Wearing a black eye patch was a white man who upon closer scrutiny appeared to be George W. Bush. The White House had no comment on the incident.

* The Democratic party has just announced that Sen. Joe Lieberman will be the official party nominee for president in 2012. A party spokesman yesterday said, "When we embrace someone like Joe who has gone astray like he did during the recent campaign we do all we can to make him feel welcome again under our big tent."

* The Congress has at last agreed to give the U.S. auto industry more than $25 billion in federal funds after General Motors decided to give each member of Congress a gas guzzling SUV. One Congressional representative told the media, "This way if Congress takes the inventory of big SUV's off GM's hands then they can get right to work making cars that get at least 23 miles per gallon. That way we can tell the American people that we have a new product that they can be proud of. I know people are already tired of taking the bus to work, that is if they can even find one in their community."

* The war in Afghanistan is picking up. Said one Obama transition spokesman, "Now we can finally have a good war that we can all feel good about and one that we can win. I know the Soviet Union got bogged down there years ago but we have a secret winning plan. We will kill the Taliban because we know them very well. Just remember that Obama foreign policy adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski helped arm them during the Jimmy Carter presidency so we know where they hang out. We'll get them now."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Many of the grassroots Obama team are deeply worried about the possible appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. The "field hands" as they call themselves are reported on by Al Giordano and this morning he has collected many words on his blog from other leading critics of Clinton.

Giordano has been helping to organize the "field hands" to stay active across the country to help Obama push his agenda. In his blog this morning Giordano writes, "Mr. President-elect: You said, on November 7, that in making cabinet appointments you "would not be so rushed that you end up making mistakes.' "

He concluded with, "No Drama, Mr. President-elect, at this hour of the first crisis of your presidency-elect. Ethics matter, even when they do not play to the crowd, especially at those moments when few have the fortitude to consider them important and fight for them."

Not bad I'd say. Good to see this rising up of the Obama team. Clinton is part of the past, part of the problem. She offers no real change.

I have written before of seeing her on the Sunday morning news talk program Faze the Nation while touring Iraq a couple of years ago. She sat before the cameras with Republican conservative Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) saying, "The American people need to relax. We are going to be in Iraq for a long time. We've been in Korea for 50 years." Sen. Graham then said, "You know I don't often agree with Sen. Clinton on much. But on this we agree, we are going to be in Iraq for a long time."

Clinton, like many Democrats in office, supported the Iraq war before she opposed it. Last night while watching the news on TV I saw a message scroll across the bottom of the screen saying, "Henry Kissinger thinks Hillary Clinton would make a great Secretary of State." What more proof would one need to know that she works for the oligarchy?

It should also be remembered that Sen. Graham was a key John McCain supporter who spent much time accompanying the Republican presidential candidate on the campaign trail. Remember the knock on McCain? He said we might be in Iraq for 100 years. 100? 50? What's the difference?

But the bad news is that all the names now being thrown out for Secretary of State are part of the Washington foreign policy consensus team. John Kerry, Bill Richardson, and Hillary Clinton have all earned their stripes over the years supporting U.S. military empire. Picking any of them will signal to me that we can expect more of the same.

I remember being in an American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) office in western Massachusetts just prior to the 2003 shock and awe invasion of Iraq. They were faxing stacks of letters from local citizens to Sen. Kerry requesting a meeting to discuss their opposition to the Iraq attack. Kerry ignored them and the war began. There was never a meeting with peace movement folks and he did nothing to stop it.

But the real good sign is that the Obama team are raising their hands in class. Let's hope that continues.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


The wind has been blowing hard here all day today. It finally stopped raining outside this afternoon after several days of steady and sometimes hard down pours. The temperatures outside are turning cold after a couple of unusually warm fall days. I can't help but worry about the fact that climate change is already impacting our beautiful spinning orb. Global warming will create havoc all over the planet and my biggest concern is that the "competition model" of global governance will pit person against person and country against country. We've got the turn the world military into a "natural guard" and use them for helping people as the seas rise and droughts impact our ability to grow food. We can't keep killing each other.

I went north to Belfast, Maine today for a meeting with two dozen folks to discuss the possible candidacy of Lynne Williams for governor. Lynne is the chair of the Maine Green Independent Party and lives in Bar Harbor. She is a progressive attorney who spends her time representing groups all over the state that are in good fights against corporate power. In the meeting I said that more attention must be placed on expanding the base of the Green Party in Maine before we plunge into another campaign. Lynne has a good vision of using her campaign to build the Greens in the state. The party though needs to become more issue based now if it hopes to attract more people come election time - people need a reason for vote for a candidate or a party. I will do what I can to help.

One of my sisters (I have five of them) called tonight from Florida and said she sent a letter to Obama after reading an earlier blog entry asking folks to do so. Thanks Leslie. I hope others are doing the same.

I watched Obama on the TV news show 60 Minutes tonight. I must say he comes across quite well and is a likeable guy for sure. He was tight-lipped about his plans except he did say he would close the Guantanamo prison camp in Cuba and would stop torture. That is all good. (Although there is talk he might open a similar facility in the U.S.) He and his wife Michelle have a nice connection and I loved the way they talked about their kids. Very loving.

Our friend Sung-Hee Choi in South Korea was very happy about the piece I wrote the other day called "Not Waiting for Godot". She sent it around to key Korean peace groups and it was put up on some web sites in her country. People there very much appreciate knowing that we care about their peace movement and that we show support. That is what solidarity is all about.

I have been writing about some of our Global Network friends around the world from time to time. I want to start doing more of that. Many people work for years and never get any recognition.

I am an avid reader and like to lay in bed at night and read til around midnight when I start to fall asleep. My stack of books is running out. I just finished a Swedish mystery story given to me when I was recently on my Nordic tour. I am boycotting my local library after a big controversy about the children's librarian being unfairly fired after 25 years of good service. The assistant children's librarian is a good friend and a member of our local Peaceworks group. She quit in solidarity after the firing. I can't find it in my heart to go back to the library as a result. I can be very stubborn.

Well enough ramblings for tonight. Time to hit the hay and read a bit.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


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Friday, November 14, 2008


Some people are not waiting to see what Obama will do as president before acting. In South Korea activists are now meeting and publicly calling on president-elect Obama to end the dangerous and costly U.S.-South Korea (ROK) military alliance that is contributing to major tensions in the region.

The U.S. is currently doubling its military presence in the Asian-Pacific region. New and expanded Pentagon bases are going into Guam, Australia, Japan, and South Korea. "Missile defense" is being peddled to Australia, Japan, and South Korea which is forcing China, who today only has 20 nuclear missiles capable of hitting the west coast of the U.S., to produce more for fear that a U.S. "first-strike" could knock out their nuclear capability. In fact the U.S. Space Command has been war gaming such a first-strike attack on China for the past several years!

If Obama wants to reduce global tensions he should begin negotiating a de-escalation of militarism in the Asian-Pacific region. If Obama wants money for health care, education, energy policy, and new jobs at home then he must stop expanding U.S. military bases in that region and throughout the world.

Activists from Solidarity for Peace & Reunification of Korea (SPARK) in South Korea have it right. Make demands on Obama now, before he sets his foreign and military policy in stone.

We in the U.S. have much to learn from our friends in South Korea.

The Global Network has been invited to hold its 2009 space organizing conference in South Korea on April 16-18.

Several key peace groups in South Korea will host the conference and we hope we can all celebrate the cancellation of the U.S.-ROK military alliance. We hope to raise our glasses to toast a new U.S.-ROK and U.S.-Asian Peace Alliance in place of the antiquated war making venture that now dominates our national agendas.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Last night I drove south to Biddeford, Maine to do a taping of an hour long public access TV program called "Out in left field."

Today I did a half-hour radio interview that plays on a couple stations in Connecticut.

In both cases the questions were the same? What is Obama going to do? Is he going to stand up to the military industrial complex? Will Obama be able to deliver on his promises of change on health care, education, energy policy and more?

Everyone is asking and no one knows for sure just yet what will happen.

One story I heard last night was that someone said to one of my friends, "Obama is for hope." What does that mean the person was asked. "Anything you want it to" was the response.

So there we go....what do you think?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


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Monday, November 10, 2008


Sunday, November 09, 2008


Obama has not even been sworn into office yet and already the sparks are flying across the Atlantic.

The BBC reported on November 8 that Polish President Lech Kaczynski said in a statement published on his website that during a phone call with Mr. Obama the president-elect had "emphasised the importance of the strategic partnership of Poland and the U.S. and expressed hope in the continuation of political and military co-operation between our countries."

"He also said that the missile defence project [Bush's plan to deploy U.S. interceptor missiles in Poland] would continue," the statement added.

During his campaign Obama had said otherwise.

Then, the same day, the BBC published a second article quoting an Obama spokesperson saying, "U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has not given a commitment to go ahead with plans to build part of a U.S. missile defence system in Poland."

When asked about the declaration, Obama foreign policy adviser, Denis McDonough said that the president-elect had "a good conversation" with Mr. Kaczynski about the American-Polish alliance and discussed missile defence, but "made no commitment on it".

"His position is as it was throughout the campaign, that he supports deploying a missile defence system when the technology is proved to be workable," Mr. McDonough said.

OK, are you just a bit confused? I am.

Someone is speaking with a forked tongue. Is it Polish President Lech Kaczynski who is telling a tall tale? Why would he, after his first conversation with Obama, lie to the world about their talk? That would constitute getting off to a very bad start with the new U.S. president which I would imagine is not something the Polish government would want to do. I would venture to guess Kaczynski was excited about the conversation and wanted to share it with the whole world that Obama had changed his mind on the deployment issue.

On Obama's part I can imagine he might have figured their conversation was private and "off the record." But when it suddenly was splashed across the world via the BBC that Obama had changed his position the embarrassment was too much and a denial had to be immediately issued.

So who was telling the fib?

What it indicates to me, if it turns out to be true that Obama had changed his mind, is that the new president cannot be trusted to really buck the military industrial complex.

The deployment of "missile defense" interceptors in Poland and the Star Wars radar in the Czech Republic, aimed at Russia, stand to create a new arms race in Europe. If Obama is willing to take that step then we are in big trouble for sure.

I'd strongly suggest that people who are concerned about this write the Obama transition team immediately and ask for clarification on his position. You can reach them at:

Don't waste a minute. Letters from outside the U.S. to Obama on this subject are highly encouraged.

Friday, November 07, 2008


President-elect Obama is asking for the public to send him their comments on how he should proceed in the coming weeks.

You can send these comments via this new web site his transition team has just put up. Click here:

I was contacted yesterday by a church group in Arizona asking for a sample letter they could use to encourage people to send Obama. I put it below for your consideration. It would not hurt for all of us to write Obama and express our concerns and give our ideas. You know the "other side" is doing it.

Dear President-elect Obama:

I am writing to urge you to dramatically cut military spending which has doubled during the last eight years under the Bush administration.

It will be impossible for our nation to achieve economic stability, social justice, a new energy policy, and peace as long as making weapons and war are our nation's priority.

We must quickly move to convert our wasteful military industrial complex in order to make funds available to create the green jobs doing sustainable production that you promised during your campaign.

If, instead of building weapons for war, we were to build public transit systems, solar power, and wind power we could significantly reduce our need for fossil fuels and thus reduce the pressure to control oil in the Middle East and Central Asia. Thus peace becomes a tangible benefit of creating a new green economy here at home.

It is our hope that you will focus our national attention on changing the way we interact with the world by creating an Earth friendly economy at home. This way we deal with the harsh coming reality of climate change and offer the world a new and friendlier side of America.

We wish you the best and pledge to do our part to help move our nation in this positive direction.

In peace,


Thursday, November 06, 2008


Obama has indeed chosen Chicago Rep. Rahm Emanuel as his White House Chief of Staff.

Emanuel is a Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) kind of Democrat. In his role as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006 he worked hard to keep progressive Democrats from running for Congress and instead only gave party funds to those who took a more moderate position on the Iraq occupation issue. Thus he was instrumental in slowing down congressional momentum to force an end to Iraq war funding that now costs us $12 billion per month.

According to Democratic candidates who ran for House of Representative seats in 2006, Emanuel took sides during the Democratic primary elections, favoring conservative candidates, including former Republicans, and sidelining candidates who were running in favor of withdrawal from Iraq.

One Emanuel critic reported, "Many of the candidates that Emanuel helped elect have joined with a group of self-styled conservative Blue Dog Democrats and have cast key votes with Republicans and stymied Democratic efforts to end the occupation of Iraq and the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program."

So it is instructive to see that a key corporate Democratic party operative has now been placed in probably the most powerful position inside the Obama administration. As we begin to read the tea leaves this is one important sign of what is yet to come.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Black people in America deserve this one. They labored in America's fields and struggled for justice long enough. I just can't imagine the depth of joy, pride, and self respect they must feel. We will be a better country with this unleashing of centuries of pain and doubt. Racism in America is far from over but a change is indeed underway.

This was the most expensive election in U.S. history, costing more than $5.3 billion. Alot of the money came from small donors but the big bankers, hedge funds, insurance companies, weapons corporations and the like kicked big bucks into both campaigns, particularly Obama's. You know the wolves will now come knocking at the White House door.

At this point it is clear that the Democrats have expanded their majority in the Senate and House of Representatives. I was closely watching a couple key races. In the House two ultra-conservative Republican Central Florida Congressmen, Tom Feeney and Ric Keller, were both defeated. I lived in Orlando, Florida for 20 years and rarely saw a Democrat elected to Congress in that region.

Cindy Sheehan, running against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco, got 17% of the vote. In a letter on the Internet yesterday Cindy expressed disappointment that the peace movement in her city was not much help with her campaign. The Democrats used Cindy in 2006 during the mid-term congressional elections to run against the war. She helped deliver the House to the Democrats but when she wanted to hold Pelosi's feet to the fire on the occupation of Iraq and impeachment, many local peace folks (who are captives of the Dems) abandoned her.

I was watching the Minnesota Senate race closely where Al Franken (a left of center Democrat) was running against incumbent Norm Coleman (a slimy character who took Paul Wellstone's seat). As of this morning they are in a virtual tie and there will be a recount.

I've not yet seen how Maine U.S. Senate write-in candidate Herb Hoffman did. I wonder if his votes will even be counted.

In a local race one of our PeaceWorks members in nearby Brunswick, Debbie Atwood, was elected to the town council. Congrats to Debbie.

Green Party leader Cynthia McKinney appears to have done poorly nationally and Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader didn't do much better. It was not a good year for people thinking outside the two-party box.

The talk is that Obama will keep Bush's Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in that job. Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W. Bush as Director of the CIA. To me that is not change.

Former Bill Clinton staffer, and now Congressman Rahm Emanuel from Chicago, is rumored to be in the running to be Obama's Chief of Staff. Emanuel is a corporate mainstream Democrat and his selection will indicate to me the real direction of an Obama administration.

Obama has a tightrope act to walk. He owes blacks, Hispanics, and young people his election. These folks are worried about jobs, health care, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, energy policy, and climate change. That is a huge undertaking. In his speech last night Obama began tamping down expectations saying "We might not get there even in my first term, but we will get there." Suddenly the "yes we can" change will become tempered.

People ought to celebrate the defeat of the right-wing Republican control of our government. That is a wonderful change for sure. But I remember the Clinton years very well. A centrist Democrat took over after the first president George Bush and gave the power structure NAFTA and paved the way for war in Iraq with his long and deadly sanctions and "no fly zones". He never did anything to speak of on health care and led the destruction of welfare while helping to begin the deregulation of Wall Street which ushered in massive welfare for the rich.

I've been around long enough not to fall for the big rhetoric from politicians. I try not to be jaded and overly cynical. I try to see things as they are.

I hope Obama delivers the changes he has promised. I hope the public understands that their role in bringing real change has just begun. I hope that Obama supporters are in this one for the long haul.

Monday, November 03, 2008


I'm stacking firewood in the backyard today and I must admit my pile is not nearly as neat as the photo above depicts. I just grabbed this picture off the Internet to try to illustrate the task at hand.

We have a huge pile of wood (two cords) that was dumped in the yard when we ordered if from a local wood cutter. Then I've been chopping up a tree given to us by a friend and our next door neighbor recently cut down a small birch tree adjoining our property line that was shading our garden which he gave to us. So the pile has grown even more.

With the snows likely coming our way by the end of November I figured I'd better get to work on stacking it so it can dry out and we won't have it buried in a pile of snow when we need it.

There are lots of methods for stacking wood. I watched an old Mainer on cable TV recently show his method. I don't have a method.....mine is kind of anarchy wood stacking. I did not do puzzles well when I was a kid either.

I am stacking the wood on four pallets that we have to keep it off the ground. My goal is to make each stack as tall as possible without having the wood fall over.

Our wood pile from last fall has held up well. That green wood has now weathered and we have just begun to burn it. A good friend helped me stack that bunch and he was about four times faster than I was. He is a real Mainer who does it without thinking. I have to pick up a piece of wood, give it a good look, and then look around for where it will go. Then I have to move it a time or two, trying for just the right fit, and then step back a few feet to make sure it works. In the meantime the world has turned a few times and my beard has grown full. At the rate I'm going I will have it done by next summer.

I just came in for lunch. All the bending and lifting has worn me out. I needed to catch my breath. I want to eat some more so I can stall a bit, my arms and back are aching.

But I will get back to it soon. I've got to put a dent in that wood pile and just hope the wind does not blow my new stack over.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Yesterday I participated in a panel discussion in Portland about the economic crisis. The panel consisted of two economics professors, a historian, a labor organizer, an immigration lawyer, and myself. It was quite an interesting two hours.

The historian began the event with a review of past "panics" in American economic history. She suggested we should call recessions and/or depressions panics again as the word better described what was going on for the public.

The best part of the event was hearing from the 50 people in the audience. Several talked about the need for groups to begin organizing to resist home foreclosures by getting the community to stop people from being thrown out of their homes. Others talked about the need to link arms with one another when the state soon moves to cut $50 million in human needs programs. Usually social service groups are pitted against one another to fight over a few crumbs. We must not let that continue to happen. One example was given how anticipated cuts at the state university system will turn education workers against social program activists.

Several of us talked about the military budget and the need to demand major cuts in military spending as a way to prevent the dissolution of social progress. Unless we are willing to call for cuts in military production in our own states then we will never succeed in creating the national momentum for Pentagon budget cuts. (We must remind the public at every opportunity that Bush doubled military spending during the last eight years and that moving war spending to civilian "green" production and social program funding will in fact create more jobs.)

We were reminded by some in the audience that "liberalism" is dead. The notion that we can "grow" our way out of this current economic crisis ignores the reality that fossil fuels are a declining resource. An entire new way of life is coming our way and we have to begin to rethink, relearn, and articulate a new vision of a livable and sustainable life style.

In my closing words I said that we have to think like organizers at this time. We must create opportunities for "popular public education" by putting together town hall meetings that will serve multiple functions. They will give us the chance to work with other organizations and interest groups to pull together mass events. The events will allow folks to share with each other their emotion, their questions, their ideas, and to create hope and energy. These public meetings will also serve to put the political class on notice that people are making specific demands like single-payer health care, cuts in military spending, an end to casino capitalism and more. If properly organized the events will also serve to alert a disempowered public that people are moving and engaged and force them to at least reflect on these serious questions and political demands.

It is true that the Obama campaign has created alot of "energy" amongst many sectors of the society. One key question is where will that energy go after November 4? We must challenge Obama supporters to now move their passion into helping take the political debate to the next level.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


OK so I couldn't resist one more pre-electoral blog-joke-spot about Sarah.

You must click on this link:

and then play the dress like Sarah game.

Happy shopping and voting.