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, January 31, 2009


We are having a writing workshop all weekend at our house by Louise Dunlap who is author of the book in the banner above. Louise is a longtime respected teacher of writing for social change and does workshops all over the world these days after a successful career that took her to MIT and UC Berkeley among others.

Things began last night with Louise speaking to a packed crowd at a local progressive book store in nearby Brunswick. (I didn't attend last night's event, instead walking across town on a cold night to watch a local high school basketball game. One of my ways to escape.) Then today we had a very diverse group of 20 people at the house for a full day of writing skills training. The workshop will conclude at noon on Sunday.

Many of the people who came today we had not met before so it was an interesting opportunity for us to get to know some new people in the region that have different agendas than our usual circles. By the end of the day though we were finding that they were learning about our efforts to convert military production to sustainable technologies. One woman was the wife of a retired weapons maker, another a professor at a Maine college, another a woman who ran a popular local restaurant for years but had to give it up due to ill health. New connections and new friends.

The primary thing I learned in the workshop is to pour out the words and let them take you where they may. Don't think so much in that first go at it. Sort of like painting or drawing I suppose.

At the same time my main computer seems to have shut down and our wireless connection at the house has gone dead. So I am writing from a local coffee shop down the icy hill from our house. I've made an early appointment with our computer repair guru for early Monday morning. Computers - we love and hate them.

Friday, January 30, 2009



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Thursday, January 29, 2009


This is a very important interview between MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Rep. Peter Defazio (D-Oregon) on what was in the stimulus package that passed the House of Representatives last night.

Rep. Defazio reports that 33% of the $819 billion package went for more tax cuts. Only 7% of the bill was for direct infrastructure and key needs like Amtrak rail and manufacturing buses was taken out of the bill in order to mollify the Republicans. Other programs like water infrastructure repair, drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities and sewer lines, were also severely cut back.

Congressman Defazio pointed to Larry Summers, Obama's head of the White House National Economic Council, as the person who led the charge to slice out these vital programs and replace them with more tax cuts. Summers, who was one of the people responsible during Bill Clinton's administration for reducing regulations on Wall Street, got fired as President of Harvard University after the faculty revolted against his authoritarian rule.

This fight between Obama's economic team and progressive Democrats in Congress has only taken one-week to bust out into the open. It could be a long four years for all of us.


Secretary of Labor-designate Hilda Solis with United Farm Workers co-founded Delores Huerta

Of all Obama's cabinet picks, most of which I have been critical of, his very best selection has been Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) as Secretary of Labor. Maybe because she was the one real "progressive" in the bunch, Obama chose her last.

Solis is the daughter of poor Latin American immigrants and has been instrumental in drumming up support in the House of Representatives for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), the new labor backed bill to make it easier for workers to organize unions. Obama promised during the campaign that passing EFCA would be one of his major priorities in his first year. As a result labor unions nationwide worked their tails off for the Obama-Biden ticket.

While in the California legislature Solis led the effort to increase the state's minimum wage in 1996. Once elected to Congress in Washington she wrote a measure that authorized $125 million for work force training programs in areas such as energy efficiency retrofitting and green building construction.

Of course, with a 97% voting record on labor issues, not everyone in America was thrilled about the Solis selection for Labor Secretary. Mark Mix, president of the anti-union National Right to Work Committee, called the Solis nomination "a slap in the face to America's independent-minded workers." Translation: Big corporate interests don't like her.

There could be another problem for Solis. She supports labor's position on renegotiating US trade agreements to ensure worker, safety, and environmental standards are properly addressed. Obama's pick for US Trade representative, former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk, supports NAFTA and would likely see Solis as a rival on these issues.

Just days ago the Houston Chronicle reported, "Kirk also favors giving Congress fast-track authority to approve other trade agreements, a provision opposed by organized labor. The process gives the executive branch the authority to negotiate and write trade agreements without consulting Congress. It sets a 90-day deadline for Congress to hold a vote on an agreement and strips Congress of the power to change the deal."

Mark Stoller, writing at Open Left, said just before Obama's inauguration, "I could see Labor becoming a department that has to build its own power, since Obama's not exactly going to welcome that perspective to the seat at the table unless Solis forces her way in. As an example, Obama has introduced his 'economic team' and met with it many times, without even having chosen a Labor Secretary, a clear sign that to him, the perspectives of organized labor are somewhat peripheral to his thinking on the economy."

But there is a bigger problem. Solis has not yet been confirmed by the Senate and it appears that the Republicans are holding up her nomination as the first shot in the labor-big business war over EFCA.

According to one labor official, the unions are waiting for word from the Obama team that they can start making a fuss about the hold-up, but they have gotten no feed-back from the administration. “People are just frustrated because they are not getting a clear signal of when and where to fight.”

Even the pro-corporate New York Times is wondering what is going on with the Solis hearings. In a recent editorial the newspaper wrote, "If there was ever a time the nation needed a strong secretary of labor, this is it. And yet, for the past several days, at least one Republican senator has been using a parliamentary procedure to hold up the confirmation of Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-California), President Obama’s choice for labor secretary. The 'hold' tactic delays a full vote by the Senate on the nomination, pending, well, pending what?"
Personal reflection: In 1978 when I quit college to go to work for the United Farm Workers Union (UFW), just before graduating at the University of Florida, it was Delores Huerta (pictured above on the right) who gave me my job interview at the UFW hall in Avon Park, Florida. I passed and went on to work for the UFW for two years organizing fruit pickers throughout the state. I was the note taker for the UFW in negotiations between the union and Coca Cola (Minute Maid orange juice) that were led by Delores.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I'm watching the debate in the House of Representatives on the stimulus package.

You can see it live here:

Looks like the proponents of public transit just succeeded in putting $3 billion more in the bill for mass transit.

If we could just get the Democrats to move some money from the Pentagon into sustainable technologies that would be outstanding - but they don't seem to want to talk about that.

Oh, it's a bummer.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Already there are liberals arguing with each other about Obama's strategy of working closely with Republicans on the economic stimulus package that is needed to pull the economy out of the dumper.

Of course none of the discussion yet seriously mentions cutting military spending as a way to free up major funds for creative projects like rail, solar, wind power and more. Current projected spending on these environmentally sustainable programs is minimal compared to the tremendous need due to climate change and declining fossil fuels. Obama proposes to spend alot of money on traditional "shovel ready" programs like road building which only reenforce the wasteful car culture.

The video above between MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and liberal activist David Sirota gives a good view of these issues. Some, like Sirota, are saying that Obama should not be compromising with the Republicans to water down his economic plan by agreeing to more tax cuts and the like.

One conservative Republican commented on their meeting with Obama to the New York Times: “This was not a drive-by P.R. stunt, and I actually thought it might be,” said Representative Zach Wamp, of Tennessee. “It was a substantive, in-depth discussion with our conference, and he’s very effective. He [Obama] knows that the debt and the deficit are huge long-term problems as well,” Mr. Wamp said, “and he made a compelling case. He sounded, frankly, a lot like a Republican.”

In the national campaign Obama spoke out strongly against more tax cuts for the rich and has since winning the election begun to back away some from that position.

Expect more of this liberal jostling as those who play the inside Washington ball game try to analyze and influence the Obama team. It is my view that folks are beginning to see that Obama is indeed a centrist - some will be OK with that and others, who "hoped" for more, will be severely disappointed and are beginning to say so.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Our Maine Veterans for Peace chapter held its annual retreat this past weekend at a nearby environmental teaching camp. Our chapter was the founding chapter of the national organization and is pound-for-pound the best peace group in the state of Maine.

About 25 folks turned out for the Friday-Saturday event that began with a pot luck supper on Friday evening. We sat around a roaring fire afterward in the main meeting hall of the camp and listened to one of our members sing some good songs with his guitar. Then we watched a great film about Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 2006 national concert tour opposing the Iraq occupation. The best scene in the documentary was of those walking out in conservative Atlanta, Georgia after the band sang Neil Young's song "Let's Impeach the President" from his Living with War CD. Many of those filmed as they angrily left the concert were surprised that CSNY had played "political" songs. Hello?

We slept in yurts at the camp which had small wood burning stoves inside the round huts and in spite of very cold outside temperatures we stayed pretty warm. Going out for a pit stop in the middle of the night was a challenge though. Walking in the two feet of snow on the ground was a hazard when trying to locate a tree to lean on.

On Saturday we began with each member telling a story from their past experiences as a veteran or as an activist. We had members present from WW II, Korea, Vietnam, and during non-war years. The stories were moving and often humorous.

I talked about the time in Gainesville, Florida that retired General H. Norman Schwarzkopf (also known as "Stormin' Norman") was given a honorary degree by the University of Florida. Our VfP chapter organized a protest outside the ornate campus chapel and some of us went inside, up to the balcony, to drop a banner and chant just as he began to speak. We chanted "Schwarzkopf lies, Gulf vets die" and security got onto us pretty quickly but had to bend our fingers back in order to get the banner from us that we had draped over the balcony railing. A few of us were arrested and banned from the campus for six months or a year - have forgotten the exact amount of time.

We also spent some time at the retreat doing an assessment of Obama and the likely direction he was heading with his foreign and military policy. The members of the chapter were clear that we must stand up strongly and speak out against Obama's plan to expand the war in Afghanistan. We have one member of the chapter that was a medic in Afghanistan and has become a key leader in IVAW.

Three of us in the Maine chapter are now on the national organizing committee for an upcoming conference called Security Without Empire: National Organizing Conference on Foreign Military Bases that will be held Feb. 27–Mar. 2 in Washington DC at American University. Unless we begin to stand in solidarity with peace movements protesting American bases around the world we stand little chance of shutting down the empire.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


This video is a must see 8-minute expose from British TV news. It shows absolutely that Israel's intention in Gaza was nothing more than complete destruction. In one instance the Israeli military herded 100 people into one building and bombed it killing 49 of them.

One can only call it genocide from those who should know better than anyone what genocide is.

And we in the US paid for much of the hardware that made it all possible.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Four days into the job and Obama has launched his first military strike into Pakistan using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's). Media reports indicate that at least 21 people were killed, including some number of civilians. During the presidential campaign Obama threatened to step-up attacks inside Pakistan.

The strikes come just a day after Mr. Obama appointed hard-liner Richard Holbrooke, a former UN ambassador, as a special envoy for the region.

Professor of Politics Stephen Zunes, chair of the Peace & Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, has written that "Richard Holbrooke, when he was Jimmy Carter's Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, denied in congressional testimony that Indonesia was responsible for the massacres of tens of thousands of East Timorese."

Holbrooke was also heavily involved in setting up the US war on Yugoslavia. In a 2008 interview well known writer and activist Tariq Ali recalled that "The decision of NATO to bomb Yugoslavia was something that was necessitated by what the United States at that time were up to. I mean, we now have the information that every time the Serbian leaders agreed to what they were demanding, they would add an additional demand. They didn't want an agreement at Rambouillet. And the Americans involved in that business - [Secretary of State] Albright and Richard Holbrooke and these other Democratic party rogues - don't make a secret of it."

Pakistan has repeatedly told Washington that air strikes inside their country violate its territorial sovereignty and will only serve to deepen resentment among the 160 million people of the nuclear-armed Islamic nation.

One must wonder if the US intends to widen the conflict with Pakistan as an excuse to have US and NATO forces occupy that country as they now do in Afghanistan? Obama has already indicated that he will send about 30,000 more US troops into Afghanistan - which he calls the "right war".

Chinese military analyst Lin Zhiyuan summed up the US military strategy a couple years ago saying, "The US will successfully move eastward the gravity and frontline of its Europe defense, go on beefing up its military presence in the Baltic states and the central Asia region, and also raise its capability to contain Russia by stepping into the backyard of the former Soviet Union."

This early "shot across the bow," I would venture to guess, is a message from Obama that he is falling right into line with existing US (read Bush) military strategies.

Keep your eyes on the bouncing ball.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Peace activists in Liberia asking for an end to militarism on the continent

by Black Agenda Report Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

It's completely appropriate to celebrate the election of the first black president, just like we celebrated the first black mayors in Newark, Gary and Cleveland in the sixties, of Los Angeles and Atlanta in the seventies, and New York and Chicago in the eighties. When the doors were forced open, when the demographics were right, enough money was raised and sufficient numbers of black voters mobilized, thousands of African Americans were elected to school boards and city councils, to state legislatures and congress, to county boards and statewide offices. And now, an African American has taken the oath of president of the United States.

As one of many who worked day and night for three years in the early 1980s to elect Chicago's first black mayor, I can understand the undefineable tears shed by many last November, and the shiver some felt when Barack Obama laid his hand on Abe Lincoln's bible. We danced and wept and prayed and rejoiced in Chicago a generation ago, and in other places too. But eventually the party was over, and this one will soon be too, for most of us. For many of us, it's already time to take stock. Were the hopes and dreams and prayers and effort put behind the Obama campaign a wise investment? And what does the election of Barack Obama mean for the position of African Americans as global citizens?

Until now, black Americans have always enjoyed, on the world stage, a presumption that we as a people and as individuals were not responsible for the lawless and criminal acts of the US government around the world. In the Vietnam era, many black GIs came home with stories that their lives had been directly spared by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese fighters at close quarters who could have killed them, but seemed to single out white American soldiers instead. When Iranian students captured the US embassy in Teheran, they offered to let the black Americans go.

Polling data has consistently shown African American communities to be less sympathetic to US military adventures around the world, and to harbor more healthy skepticism of war aims and claims than any other sector of the electorate. Immediately before the Iraq invasion, a Gallup poll showed black America opposing the war almost two to one, the opposite of white America. No wonder our international image is dominated by figures of courageous moral opposition to empire like Muhammed Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King. But with the election of Barack Hussein Obama, and the explicit targeting of Africa as a battleground for American control of the world's resources and markets, that is definitely about to change.

The moment Barack Obama took the oath of office, he became commander in chief of America's far-flung global empire, more than 800 military bases strung across the planet, and at least a million and a half uniformed personnel, secret prisons, torturers, and looters of whole economies. The US spends more on arms than all the rest of the planet combined, and in spite of our economic woes, Obama is not committed to reducing this. He may ask us to cut "entitlements" and tighten our belts, but reducing the military budget, the production of arms and the training of bloodthirsty proxy armies in poor countries all around the world is not to be questioned under an Obama administration.

In Africa, perhaps the best example, civil societies need the freedom to organize health care and education. They need control over their own national resources, and they need an international monetary system that does not facilitate the wholesale looting of their economies. They need clean water, low-priced anti-HIV drugs.

Barack Obama instead is identified with fundamentalist preacher Rick Warren, responsible for funding and training African pastors who hold condom-burning rallies and lead marches and rallies to threaten gays and so-called 'witches" with arrest and death.
Rather than seek allies in the vibrant civil sector of African societies, Obama's advisors are enthusiastic supporters of the Bush-created AFRICOM, which works to strengthen the least productive sector of African societies --- Africa's rapacious military machines.

The informative blog Crossed Crocodiles tells of a January 18 multinational miltary seminar held in Dakar, Senegal to hand out American gadgets and treats to African armies in support of US goals for the continent, "... cement(ing) the US Africa Command in place as an imperial colonial power organizing and directing proxy armies, controlling the tools, techniques, perhaps the language of their communication...."

From Congressional testimony by the Africa Faith and Justice Network, in July 2008:
The ‘train and equip’ idea is not new. In fact, it has a very bad history in Africa – a history that harkens back to the proxy wars of the Cold War and U.S. support for illegitimate or corrupt regimes.

In the 1980’s, the U.S. spent $500 million to train and equip Samuel Doe in Liberia. According to a report from the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute, “every armed group that plundered Liberia over the past 25 years had its core in these U.S.-trained Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers. There is thus a fear that when the United States withdraws support for its security sector reform program and funding for the AFL, Liberia will be sitting on a time bomb; a well-trained and armed force of elite soldiers who are used to good pay and conditions of service, which may be impossible for the government of Liberia to sustain on its own.”

AFRICOM’s value as a structure for legitimizing African armies should therefore be called into serious question. The long-term ramifications of irresponsible training and equipping should be taken into consideration before the U.S. military is awarded more power in Africa. PMC’s should be debated and scrutinized by the African people and parliamentary bodies in every country should be encouraged to enact legislation against their operations. Propping up and arming corrupt leaders is no path to stability in Africa. The U.S. must act as a credible force for peace, not an overzealous superpower that employs private contractors to conduct military operations in Africa.

Many question the idea of training and coordinating African militaries at all. Many African military forces are primarily used against their own people in order to keep the current regime in power.”

Many Africans question this policy, as do those Americans who are aware of it. Barack Obama and his advisors are certainly aware of it. Many of them helped design it, and Obama has hired them for what they know and what they do. The question now is what will we do, and what will we help our fellow citizens, especially African Americans know about our longstanding and deadly intervention on the African continent.

Through the Pentagon and the CIA, according to Asad Ismi and Kristen Schwartz in the Ravaging of Africa, the US has fueled no less than fourteen separate African wars in recent decades. We have sent weapons, military training and military aid to more than 50 of Africa's 54 nations, aided both sides in several wars, and more than two sides in Rwanda, the Congo, and Somalia. We are the authors of a war in Somalia in which a million people have perished, a capital city has been deserted, and several million more are homeless, destitute and on the verge of starvation. US forces regularly fly missions in support of the Ethiopian invasion force in Somalia, which sits atop a lake of untapped oil.

Our economic looting and militarization of African societies prevents them from setting up education and health care systems that would retard the HIV-AIDS epidemic. Our predatory trade agreements prohibit African countries from rational public sector wealth building, and even seek to prevent African farmers from saving theirr own seeds to plant as they have done for millenia. Our banking system makes it possible for multinational corporations and corrupt Africans to take vast amounts of wealth offshore for injection into Western economies.

Some black Americans have been quoted in the media saying that they finally felt they could unpack their bags here in the U.S, that they could finally fly the American flag with pride. Good for them. We should let them know what that flag is standing for around the world, with or without a black man in the White House. We used to be regarded as a people of struggle, innocent of the crimes of our government. That era is over. It's time to wake up after the party and wonder what will become of the international image of African Americans in the wake of an Obama presidency?

Bruce Dixon is managing editor of Black Agenda Report and is based in Atlanta.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


A must watch from Jon Stewart's Daily Show. He nails it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


The New York Times ran a headline immediately after the inauguration today that read "President Obama Vows Era of Responsibility." They quoted Obama as saying that with our current economic crisis we must deal with “our collective failure to make hard choices.”

Those are code words that really mean the "entitlement programs" need to be scaled back. Particularly Social Security and Medicare. There was no language in the speech about cutting the military budget or closing down bases of the empire. In fact in one flourish, where he talked about the "sacrifices" made to destroy Nazism and Communism, Obama sent out a call to the "terrorists" I presume, declaring “you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”

Nothing was uttered about making the rich and the bankers pay back the $700 billion bailout they weaseled out of the tax payers by scaring the nation into thinking they would stabilize the economy if we just handed the national treasury over to them.

Nothing about holding accountable those who violated the Constitution by falsely leading us into war. Nothing about those who broke the law by spying on us and arresting and incarcerating innocent people without legal representation or trials.

Instead we are told to look ahead, get beyond the divisive past, forget that we've been used and abused, that we essentially must forgive and forget.

Many in the huge crowd cheered the words from our new president. They are happy that Bush is gone and hope that the coming change will allow them to return to more normal days.

Obama has set up a new organization to help him lobby for the policies that his administration will propose. People will get regular emails instructing them to lobby Congress on this bill or that one. One of the bills will be to help further enrich the insurance companies as the Obama team ignores strong public support for a single-payer health care system. Instead, it will be "health insurance for all" which will likely turn out to be a mandate requiring everyone to buy a health insurance policy just like we are now required to purchase auto insurance. For those who can't afford it there might be some government subsidy available. In the end the government will facilitate the "market" and health care will remain a commodity and not a human right.

For those deeply concerned about climate change and our Mother Earth's declining health we will have nuclear energy, "clean coal" and biofuels. We'll see more government support for corporate control of food - genetically modified crops - promoted by Monsanto's new Secretary of Agriculture.

In Obama's opening words he talked about the early vision of our "founding fathers". He intends to remain loyal to the rich white men who dreamed of their own empire - one that would challenge England's global power. An empire that would push the Native Americans from their land, ravage the Earth for its natural resources, and move overseas to terrorize and colonize people in Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, Latin America, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and ultimately the moon in the sky.

Days ago I read a story in the mainstream press about wealthy Americans who had repeatedly given Obama big money for his campaigns and inauguration, at every legal opportunity. The Rockefeller family was one such clan mentioned who had given hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The rich in America are proud to boast once again about the "peaceful transition of power." Yes indeed, they have ensured that they have again successfully moved from one president to another - even one party to another - while they remain in control. That is worth a few hundred thousand dollars. It's almost an embarrassingly cheap investment.

Alas, only in America can the rich buy a self-proclaimed progressive politician, turn him rightward, and have the adoring masses stand and cheer as the packaged new leader calls for the people to prepare to accept cuts in social spending and ready their children for another war.

Last night Mary Beth and I had an hour-long phone conversation with an activist friend from Canada who had just been physically removed from an expensive luncheon honoring a Canadian general just back from Afghanistan. The conquering general was reporting on their participation in the "right war". Our friend attended the coronation and silently stood before the general with a sign criticizing Canada for doubling its military budget, cutting social spending, and not focusing instead on dealing with the real enemy of the people - the looming threats of climate change.

Few of our Canadian friend's "progressive" political allies want her to be so bold. She might create the wrong image, alienate some friendly politician, turn off potential donors or supporters, instead they'd like for her to be more reserved and refined. But she has babies and she has been schooled in the reality of the future under a planet in crisis. She hears the alarms ringing in her ears and pounding in her heart. She finds it hard to turn her eyes away from the great wrecking ball. Her conscience pulls her back toward the truth and forces her out of her isolation.

It is hard to look the other way. I've tried and too find it awfully hard to live with myself when I do.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I had an email the other day from my friend Andy Johnson in Jacksonville, Florida. He has three FM stations in the Jacksonville/St. Augustine area and last year gave the Global Network $5,000 worth of free one-minute radio spots. They caused quite a stir and as a result he had me on for an hour interview on his talk show to explain the ads.

In 2009 he is giving us even more free radio time telling me that on January 5 he started running our new ads four times a day on each of the three stations. A friend in St. Augustine heard one of the spots the other day and called to tell me.

Andy's family has been active in Jacksonville politics for many years and he was elected to the state legislature for a term or two. It's pretty conservative in Jacksonville, they have a couple huge Navy bases there, but a large black population that helps balance the community out a bit.

Andy struggles to keep the stations alive and he hopes he can afford to keep bringing progressive talk radio to Jacksonville. He needs all the help he can get. We are very grateful to him for his remarkable support.

Here is the copy I wrote for the latest ads running on Andy's stations:

The Bush administration wants to deploy “missile defense” bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. The U.S. has recently built new bases in Romania and Bulgaria and NATO is now putting bases in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Why is the U.S. surrounding Russia?

Could it be because Russia has the world’s largest supply of natural gas? Are we going to attack every country that has oil or natural gas?

Maybe we should begin to develop a real energy policy here at home. Why can’t we build windmills and put a solar system on every building in America? Why can’t we create the world’s best rail system getting us out of our cars as gas prices rise? Imagine the jobs created in America if we did that instead of spending $12 billion a month on the occupation of Iraq.

The time has come to stop wasting our hard earned tax dollars on endless war. Let’s create good jobs in America by converting the military industrial complex.

Check out the web site of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space at

Sunday, January 18, 2009


See this short trailer about Pete Seeger film

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I'm crying now. I can't go on anymore, stuffing the feelings inside, without finally letting the tears come. The suffering of the mothers, the children, the fathers, the old men in beards, the grandmothers, has gotten to me.

Eleven hundred dead and four hundred of them children. Thousands injured. 1.5 million in emotional trauma. Lives cut ever so short, and for what? Canadian Michel Chossudovsky writes that it is about natural gas just off the coast of Gaza.

There is talk of a ceasefire now. Bush and Olmert work it all out in advance and run the carnage right up to George W.'s last days in office. Then they pull the double-switch right as Obama comes in office, saying they've worked out a plan to bring in NATO to monitor the tunnels where guns and food are smuggled into Gaza. The war-never-ends-crowd gets what they want - move NATO into a new conflict zone making the U.N. irrelevant. The fact that U.N. schools and food distributions centers were bombed in recent days is a key part of the message. NATO is to be the big dog now. Obama's "team" of Hillary and Gen. Jones (the former commander of NATO) are consulted and they of course agree to the package. It's all wrapped up nice and pretty. It's printed in the New York Times which makes it official - by all standards.

I've seen this script before. As I said to the 30 folks crowded into our kitchen last night, who came to hear Molly Little's moving presentation about her three months living with the Palestinian people in a small town completely surrounded by the WALL, this reminds me of the Sioux living on the reservations in South Dakota in the 1860's. They were a beaten people who had their land and culture stolen from them and when they dared to fight back they were called savages, renegades, and devils. The glorious American cavalry had come to bring them Christianity, peace, freedom, civilization, small-pox contaminated blankets, alcohol, hot bullets from repeating rifles, bursting cannon balls, sharpened tips of silver swords, and treaties written in disappearing ink. Anyone who spoke in favor of the redskins were considered devilish as well. So what if their sacred Black Hills were stolen from them. They got "progress" in return. What can be better than that?

Oh god, if you do exist and I am not so sure you do, let me be a devil. Let my heart and soul be with those Pales-Indians. Let me stand with the people always. Let the silence end. Amen.

Friday, January 16, 2009


  • I have to admit that I am not feeling any real excitement about next week's inauguration. I am though following the swirl around the Bush shoe-throw that will be held the day before the inauguration and is being organized by Mainer Jamilla El-Shafaie who has been collecting shoes all over the place. Our house was a regional drop-off spot for worn out shoes. This morning we heard that Jamilla will be on Jay Leno's Tonight Show early next week talking about the shoe-toss. There is some speculation that shoe throwing might become an official sport at the next summer Olympics.

  • I have three big balls up in the air right now and yesterday, if I can be so bold, I did quite a nice job of juggling them all. I am in the middle of getting our Space Alert newsletter done and at the same time working on a leaflet for the April 3 Town Hall meeting we are organizing in Portland. Then I also have been finishing up a brochure for the No Bases Conference that will be held in Washington DC at the end of February. My co-juggler in this task is Nancy Randolph who lives in nearby Topsham, Maine and who is doing the layout on all three of these projects. So we've been throwing the balls back and forth to each other - and so far neither of us have dropped them.

  • Mr. Obama has made a couple appointments to the Pentagon during the last few days. One of them, to be Deputy Secretary of War (under Bill Gates) is William Lynn III who has recently been the Senior V-P of Raytheon. Another pick is Michele Flournoy who will become undersecretary for policy at the Pentagon and was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton for President. Flournoy was a research professor at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, where she founded and led the university’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) working group, which was chartered by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop "intellectual capital" in preparation for the Department of Defense’s 2001 QDR. In her confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee she was asked about the Poland and Czech Republic missile defense deployments and Flournoy said she believed it would be in the United States' interest if Washington and Moscow could agree to cooperate on missile defense. Translation: Russia should accept the deployments and we all walk away as friends. Bush tried that same strategy and Russia turned him down.

  • We are hosting a talk tonight at our Addams-Melman House by Molly Little, a student from Brown University (she is from Maine). Molly has been to the Middle East and has recently been doing organizing around the issue. Her talk will be entitled American Witness in Palestine: Roots and Realities. We expect a good turnout. It's 10 below zero here this morning so we might have to turn the heat on for the meeting.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


BBC TV Report: Children of Gaza Suffer the Brunt of Israeli Conflict

Should the American taxpayers provide Israel with more military funding so they can continue this operation?

Where are the critical voices from the Congressional Progressive caucus and Black caucus during this turkey shoot?

Why don't mainstream media in the US show these same videos that are now being broadcast by media all over the world?

It appears to be true that Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Bush to order him to have Condi Rice stand down when the UN Security Council passed a resolution last Thursday calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza where now about 1,000 Palestinians have been killed.

Fourteen of the council's 15 members voted in favour of the resolution.

The US had initially been expected to vote in line with the other 14 but Rice later became the sole abstention.

"In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favour," Olmert said.

"I said 'get me President Bush on the phone'. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn't care. 'I need to talk to him now'. He got off the podium and spoke to me. I told him the United States could not vote in favour. It cannot vote in favour of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favour."

So with that phone call now on record I have this question. Who is running the government of the USA? Is Israel, and AIPAC, truly calling the shots inside the halls of "democracy" in Washington?

How can we think for a moment that we have "freedom" in our land when Olmert can get on the phone and give direct orders to our president?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I began my speech to the Delray Citizens for Social Responsibility yesterday by saying that I had spoken to their organization more times (probably 15 or so) in my activist career than any other group. My first talk to them was likely in 1985 or 1986 and in 1987 they sent a bus load of their members north to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for the historic march on the space center that I organized while working for the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice. Over 5,000 people came to the event and Dr. Benjamin Spock was a speaker, along with Odetta who recently passed away. Following the rally we marched to the front gate of the base and 200 of us were arrested for trying to climb over the fence in a symbolic attempt to stop the first flight test of the Trident II nuclear missile. Dr. Spock was the first one over the fence.

Virtually everytime I have spoken to the Delray Citizens in recent years someone would tell me before the meeting not to mention Israel in my talk because it would start a fight. The group is made up of Jewish people, primarily from New York City, who retired in Florida. Almost all of them have had tremendously vibrant histories as anti-war, labor, and/or Communist party activists. These days, every time I return to speak, I learn that another one of my old friends has passed away.

So it was on Monday night when I arrived in Delray Beach. I was once again asked not to mention Israel and I replied that in their invitation they had asked me to speak about US bases overseas which is a timely and important topic. So I told them I always honor a group's request on what they want me to speak about but I insisted that during the question period if anyone asked me about Israel then I would have to give an honest answer. OK, they said that would be fine.

I knew this was the dance from years past. In the audience, after my talks, someone always would ask for my views on Israel and the internal-eternal debate would begin amongst the assembled. Usually it was one of my dear friends Nat Kaplan or Abe Feldman who would ask the question if no one else did. But Nat died a couple years ago and when I arrived on Monday I learned that Abe and his wife Rose are now in an assisted living facility and no longer attending meetings. So yesterday, much to my utter surprise, no one questioned me about Israel.

I once asked Nat how it was that he had developed so much sympathy for the Palestinian people and why he put himself in the position to receive so much rage from some members of his community when he spoke against Israel's policies.

Nat told me that many years before he had gone to Israel to visit an uncle who had a large holding of land. His uncle had several Palestinian servants and one day the uncle pointed out a young attractive Palestinian woman. The uncle told Nat, "I f _ _ k her anytime I want to." Nat told me he was shocked by the arrogant and racist statement and immediately began rethinking the entire Israel-Palestinian dynamic.

Nat had been a young labor activist in the 1930's and was involved in the creation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 required union leaders to swear that they were not Communists. Many CIO leaders refused to obey that requirement, which was later found to be unconstitutional. The CIO merged with the AFL in 1955.

Years ago, when I first began speaking to the Delray Citizens, they would draw 4oo people to a monthly meeting. Yesterday they had 50 in the audience. Each time I say goodbye I wonder who I will not see again.

But the person I miss the most is Nat Kaplan. He was a man of great warmth, humor, creativity, and compassion. We need more people like him in this world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Take a glimpse inside New York's pro-Israel rally on January 11 with Max Blumenthal.

Monday, January 12, 2009


In this bit Bush says, "I'm the kind of person willing to take on hard tasks, in times of war people get emotional....."

I have long believed that both Bush #1 and Bush #2 were brought into the presidency by the CIA-oligarchy to start wars in the Middle East and they did.

George W.'s statement that "I'm the kind of person willing to take on hard tasks" gives me a creepy feeling that my wild theory was on the mark. He knew he'd never be loved so he tried to deny the "loud voices" and turned to reading Lincoln in order to justify, in his jumbled mind, his place in history.

Just a thought......the Bush family are hired guns for the empire. He's done his job well.


I am heading to Delray Beach, Florida this morning to speak to a group there on Tuesday. Be back home late Tuesday night.

Take a look at these videos. The lies and distortions from Israel are catching up with them, even in mainstream media. Help put the pressure on for the truth to emerge.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


By Anne Gibbons

The dreadful news of the massacre in Gaza all week compelled us to attend the LET GAZA LIVE protest in Washington, DC yesterday. We were glad to find a bus leaving from Yonkers, a convenient location for us. We didn't know that it was organized by the Andalusia School, the only Muslim school in Westchester, which turned out to make the experience extraordinary. We were warmly welcomed and introduced to the many students and parents on the bus. Much of the travel time was spent talking with the principal of the school and an art teacher whose parents emigrated from Palestine in 1947. Many of the families on the bus were Palestinian. We and two women who weren't from the school were repeatedly thanked for our concern and participation. Adults and children shared reasons why they decided to come to the protest.

There was a great turnout from all across the country that packed Lafayette Park between the White House and the hotel where Barack Obama is staying. Speakers including leaders from Palestinian, Muslim and Jewish organizations, religious and secular, as well as Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader and others condemned the massacre in Gaza, called for an immediate cease fire, denounced the Senate and House resolutions that wholeheartedly support the Israeli assault and stressed that an end to the occupation is critical for peace in the middle east and the world.

We came away from this experience with a stronger understanding of how important it is to distinguish Zionism from Judaism. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all religions stemming from the same roots. Zionism is a political ideology that came into being about 100 years ago that called for the complete displacement of the Palestinians from their ancestral lands and is responsible for the ethnic cleansing and genocide that we see today. Without addressing this injustice we will never have peace in the middle east.

We need to educate ourselves about the US role in this crisis. The website "If Americans Knew - what every American needs to know about Israel/Palestine" is an excellent source of information.

Peace and good wishes,

Anne Gibbons & Ivan Braun
New York City


Woman speaker at London January 10, 2009 Gaza protest

Saturday, January 10, 2009


The local Portland Press Herald ran an article this morning about possible war crimes in Gaza by Israel. Then I just ran across a similar story on CNN that reported, "Israeli forces shelled a house where they had ordered about 100 Palestinian civilians to take shelter, killing about 30 people and wounding many more, witnesses told the U.N.

"The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a blunt press release saying ambulances obtained access to several houses in Zeitoun 'affected by Israel shelling,' days after they asked to go into the neighborhood.

"The release slammed Israel -- an uncharacteristic move for the agency, which is known for its neutrality and quiet, behind-the-scenes activities. According to the release, the ICRC had wanted 'safe passage for ambulances' to the neighborhood since Saturday, but didn't receive Israeli Defense Forces permission until Wednesday."

Israel's recent devastation of Lebanon vividly remains in the memories of most people. And now we are witnessing this carnage in Gaza.

The U.S. Senate has proven itself to be an enabler of Israel as our illustrious upper body on Thursday passed a resolution expressing "America's unequivocal and steadfast support for Israel's right to self-defense."

AIPAC praised the Senate for passage of the resolution which expressed support for Israel in its "fight against terrorism."

The Senate used a voice vote rather than a recorded one so it is impossible to determine how any particular senator voted. It is unknown if there were any abstentions.

"When we pass this resolution, the United States Senate will strengthen our historic bond with the state of Israel, by reaffirming Israel's inalienable right to defend against attacks from Gaza, as well as our support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said before the vote.

Peace process? I'm sorry Sen. Reid, I think you got it wrong. It's not a peace process - its a process of destruction and cultural genocide.

So now the U.S. Senate is on record of supporting Israel's war crimes in Gaza. The House voted 390-5 in favor, see the full list here.

Please stand by if you are waiting for change in the new Democratic Party controlled Congress. We will alert you at the first sighting of any but don't hold your breath.

In the meantime Naomi Klein is calling for a boycott of Israel. Read her article here.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Congress reopened this week with their new, and supposedly fresh, crew of faces in the House and Senate. They are all ready to bring us hope and change, along with our new president-elect.

Just in case they might have forgotten what many people in the nation meant when they asked for change, a long procession of folks dressed in black carrying the names of people killed in Iraq and Gaza (the March of the Dead) silently moved through the streets of Washington yesterday. Seventeen in the group were arrested when they took the procession inside the Hart Senate Office building.

I saw a headline yesterday that Obama's new Secretary of War (same as the old boss) Robert Gates is asking for another $70 billion this year for America's two wars ("the good one and the bad one"). If approved it would bring total supplemental war spending for 2009 to $136 billion. The new Congress will get to decide on this very soon.

We had a bit of a snow and sleet storm here yesterday and it came at a bad time as I had scheduled a meeting in Portland last night to continue planning our spring Town Hall Meeting on Economy & War. All day I fielded calls and emails wondering if, like most sane groups do, our meeting would be postponed to another night. But I persisted figuring that if we got a half dozen people there it would be worth it. My schedule gets busy in the next week, including a short trip to Delray Beach, Florida for a talk to a group there. Much to my surprise 19 key activists turned out last night from up and down the coast of southern Maine and we had a great meeting. Included in the group was the crew from a Biddeford public access TV show called Out in Left Field that filmed the meeting and will air it tonight in their weekly one-hour slot.

We are going to invite our Maine Congressional delegation to the town hall meeting as we understand that the "bouncing ball of change" now sits in the court of the Congress. They will be the ones to decide if we keep spending our collapsing national treasury on endless war or will we summon the good sense and courage to convert the military industrial complex to peaceful and sustainable technology production while we still can. It's an open question and the peace, environmental, labor, and social justice movements need to get on the stick now and begin organizing to make it happen.

Already in Maine we see human services groups going to the state capital in Augusta and asking that cutbacks not happen in their constituency service areas. But the state is broke, flat out busted. Unless we connect the dots and cut military spending and transfer that money to the states for human needs and job creation then we are going down hard. Very hard indeed.

Sadly far too many organizations still refuse, for a multiplicity of reasons, to make these important connections. I hope they learn quickly to change course.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


That's right, as of this morning 680 Palestinians have been killed while 10 Israelis have died (at least 4 of them by the Israeli military itself in a friendly fire incident). The wounded numbers are off the charts - several thousand Palestinians and likely about 100 or so Israelis.

It's what you'd call a turkey shoot or shooting fish in a barrel.

Yesterday Israel killed at least 40 people at a United Nations run school they bombed. Israel quickly claimed that Hamas fighters were using the school as a hideout. But this morning a U.N. spokesman said they were 99.9% certain that there were no Hamas at the school and that they had in fact informed Israel about the exact coordinates of the school to ensure it not be hit.

Kind of reminds me of the U.S. hitting the Chinese embassy during the Yugoslavia war - bad maps the U.S. claimed - this in the days of focused satellite images.

Now Israel is saying they will stop the fighting for three hours each day to allow humanitarian aid to be trucked into Gaza. My cynical reaction: as the people attempt to get to the distribution sites they will be killed. This is now happening to ambulance drivers who go out to pick up people who have been wounded. They get targeted.

Obama broke his silence and told reporters yesterday, "We are going to engage effectively and consistently in trying to resolve the conflicts that exist in the Middle East........the loss of civilian life in Gaza and Israel is a source of deep concern to me, and after January 20th I am going to have plenty to say about the issue."

The fact that Obama was forced to make even that weak statement means that the pressure from the peace movement and international outrage is having a bit of impact. We've got to multiply the pressure.

I sent a letter to the editor of my local paper yesterday. For two hours I just sat staring at the computer, completely immobilized by despair after viewing photos and reading articles about the Gaza carnage. The fog that descended on me was part rage and part depression. Finally I crawled out of it and wrote the letter and this morning the editor called and said it would appear in the paper by the end of the week. There have been few letters in the paper about Gaza, adding to my utter frustration, and most of the ones printed so far were of the GO ISRAEL variety.

In these moments I keep pushing myself harder to do something else. I tell myself, "Find some way Bruce to do at least one thing a day."

We can't leave the people in Gaza to suffer this genocide alone.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


First of all you must watch this CBS TV interview with Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor in Gaza, as he describes the number of civilians and children injured and killed there. His heart breaking interview proves that Israel is deliberately attacking the civilian population.

The Washington Post reports, "About 550 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,500 have been reported wounded in the 10-day offensive; Palestinian health officials estimate that many of them -- between 24 and 30 percent -- are women and children. Most are at Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital. Doctors there are working day and night on floors soaked with blood to help the rapidly mounting numbers of wounded. In the halls and corridors, screams and uncontrolled sobbing, along with the sounds of bombs and mortars, punctuate conversations.
'The numbers of killed and wounded are rising. Every minute we have a bombardment,' said Hassan Khalaf, the director of Shifa Hospital. 'The number of cases is overwhelming us. No hospital in the world can handle this.' It's become too dangerous for his staff to retrieve victims. Eleven members of his medical staff have been killed since the offensive began. 'They were in ambulances,' Khalaf said."

Then you must take five minutes and call your Congressional delegation and DEMAND that the US must force Israel into a ceasefire.

Do not just click away. Please make the calls.

The Congressional phone number is (202) 224-3121. When they answer just ask for your Senator and/or Congressman's office.

If you don't know who they are just click here:

Monday, January 05, 2009


Obama's Secretary of Commerce appointee, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, withdrew his name from consideration this past weekend when it became public that a grand jury is investigating him for a "pay to play" deal, similar to the controversy that is now sweeping the state of Illinois. A federal investigation is looking into how a big-money political contributor of the governor landed lucrative state contracts. Richardson denies all wrong doing.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, "The big picture is fairly simple. CDR Financial Products LLC of Beverly Hills was paid $1.4 million from work it did on behalf of the New Mexico Finance Authority, which issued GRIP transportation bonds. David Rubin, the company's principal owner, made at least $100,000 in contributions to Richardson-backed political committees about the time the firm got the work with the finance authority. Two substantial contributions were three months apart and generally coincided with the separate awards to CDR — one of them a no-bid, sole-source deal."

I've followed the career of Richardson closely. He was a former member of the House of Representatives in Washington. He served as Bill Clinton's Secretary of Energy (DoE) and we all know that New Mexico long ago was chosen as one of the nation's "nuclear sacrifice zones" where nuclear testing was first done and where today several nuclear labs and many military bases test all kinds of futuristic weapons systems.

Albuquerque has many nuclear weapons stored at Kirtland AFB right inside the city. Kirtland is also the space laser directorate for the Pentagon. Many "missile defense" systems are flight tested in southern New Mexico at White Sands. Bill Richardson has always been about bringing home the "Pentagon bacon" and has never shown an inclination to interrupt anything involving the military industrial complex.

When Obama chose Richardson for his cabinet, the message to me was, here goes more of the same.

I sent a message to my good friend, and Global Network board member, Bob Anderson in Albuquerque who co-directs the group Stop the War Machine. I asked Bob to give me his thoughts on the Richardson scandal. Here are some of them:

"It raises a lot more questions about the Obama team. It was obvious to anyone here not connected to the ideologues of the Democratic Party that this man [Richardson] was a carpetbagger who moved here just to run for higher office, and along the way was a global type corporate criminal. Richardson was a director of Kissinger Associates (as in Henry the butcher) which is a private sector firm that brings in politicians to keep them on a payroll when they are out of elective office.

" Richardson campaigned in 2000 on an economic plank of more militarization as a way to solve the state economic problems. Along with Republican Senator Pete Dominici, who just resigned to avoid an ethics investigation for election tampering saying he has an incurable brain disease and now has miracle recovery, they turned the state over to every war and weapons program imaginable -- from nuclear war planning, to war in space planning and development. Along the way they had help from another carpetbagger, Heather Wilson, Republican member of the House, and against whom I ran in 1998 as a Green.

"People like Richardson and Wilson move to states like NM as carpetbaggers to position themselves for political office to better serve the private sector interests and the military. This is the political arm of the military industrial complex in action.

"Richardson specialized in taking public assets, taxes, and turning them over to private sector interests. The state pension and rainy day fund was raided for millions with investments in Wall Street schemes like the Madoff fiasco, when other investors were abandoning hedge funds and pyramid schemes last fall. $200 million was tapped for a private spaceport for the global elite and Lockheed Martin to launch space research weapons and fun flights for celebrities. All these were part of his plan to get money for his run for president, which was a failure.

"Richardson talked [nuclear] nonproliferation but stood by while the Reliable Replacement Warhead was discussed. While he was Secretary of the DoE he oversaw an expansion of the WMDs in Albuquerque and never responded to our campaign to rid the city of 2,000 WMDs stored at Kirtland AFB. In fact he helped the Air Force locate the new WMD center at the base, along with the space battlefield program. SO much .... When the BRAC [base closing commission] planned to close Canon AFB at Clovis, NM he rushed out there and stood shoulder to shoulder with the Republican Senators Domenici and Wilson to promise to find a new mission for the base. We've now got a new covert operations training base there. The whole state has seen an expansion of war research and planning under his term while poverty has grown here. White Sands Missile Range is now to be home to a battalion of regular Army in addition to other programs, to train for wars in Eurasia."

So basically, according to Bob, Gov. Richardson was just another garden variety center-right Democrat disguised as a progressive.

It's good to see him out of contention for the Obama cabinet post but there are plenty more like him out there. I'm certain Obama will find another person like Richardson for the Commerce Department post.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Israeli peace protesters opposing their country's Gaza attack

There is more debate inside Israel about their nation's illegal and immoral attack on the defenseless people of Gaza than here in the US. In America we witness a non-stop display of Israeli government spokespersons on TV justifying their murderous assault on the Palestinian people. I've seen nothing on TV or in the newspaper about protests in our country.

Tonight I even heard Israeli government representatives on CNN and MSNBC denying that more than 400 Palestinian people had been killed in recent days by Israel's incessant bombing. These bold faced liars accused the Palestinians of making up the numbers of dead in order to sway public opinion. How despicably low can Israel stoop? And how low can the American media stoop in their servitude and complicity?

It is a virtual turkey shoot, like shooting fish in a barrel, happening right now in Gaza. The corrupt American media asks few tough questions as the Israeli government keeps the world media from filming their military rampage.

On the topic of Israel's current attack on Gaza, South African Archibishop Desmond Tutu said on Sunday: "In the context of total aerial supremacy, in which one side in a conflict deploys lethal aircraft against opponents with no means of defending themselves, the bombardment bears all the hallmarks of war crimes."

I read a report tonight from a friend that Cynthia McKinney is now back in the US and that Israel today bombed and destroyed the port that Cynthia and a European medical team tried to sail into earlier this week with medical supplies. All of the fishing boats have also been blown up in the port making it virtually impossible for them to transport food into Gaza.

Still we hear nothing from Obama. We expect nothing from Bush but we must insist that Obama stand up and call for an end to this systematic slaughter of a people who have no Army, Navy, or Air Force. The excuse that Hamas is launching some ineffective rockets to justify this genocidal policy is deceptive and sickening. We Americans are allowing this madness to continue and we are paying for it with our tax dollars!

Yesterday I joined an hour long protest in Portland at noon and two TV stations came to cover the event. But they spent at least 20 minutes interviewing the one Jewish man in a suit that crashed the protest, began yelling in some of our faces, and then went over to the media who eagerly put him on camera. Our very diverse group of at least 75 people, standing in the freezing cold, was not reported on by the local newspaper.

The media are captives of this war machine that is now churning death full bore in Gaza.

God help us all and most importantly, god help the Palestinian people. Not enough of us seem to care. Our hearts have turned cold.


Last Sunday I attended a public forum on health care at the library in Brunswick. The event was led by Bill Clark, a retired doctor, who I have interviewed a couple of times on my public access TV show called This Issue. The meeting was organized in response to Obama's request for feedback on his health care plans.

The Obama team gave a list of seven questions they wanted discussed. The questions were policy wonk oriented, things like "How can public policy promote healthier lifestyles?"

There were 60 people present and early on the group made it clear that they didn't want to talk about the seven questions from Obama. Instead they over and again spoke about their belief that health care was a human right, that the profit motive should be taken out of health care, and in the end the people pretty much unanimously requested that Dr. Clark inform the Obama team that those assembled supported a single-payer health care program, or "Medicare (the program that covers people over 65) for all" as it is often called.

Richard Rhames from Biddeford, who was there filming the meeting for public access TV, reminded us that while a state senator in Illinois Obama had helped defeat a single-payer health care program that was brought to his state legislature. During the recent Democratic primaries it was Rep. Dennis Kucinich who was the leading advocate for government run single-payer system while Obama and Hillary Clinton championed "national health insurance for all" which means having the government further subsidize the insurance companies to broaden their coverage to include more of the 48 million across the nation who have no coverage.

Health insurance corporations premiums have doubled in the past eight years and medical bills now contribute to 50% of the bankruptcies and home foreclosures experienced by the public.

Advocates of single-payer have made a strong case that expanding private health insurance may not mean a better delivery system as we know that the "market driven" insurance companies are less efficient. The government run Veterans Administration (VA) health program has the best quality scores (for diabetes, blood pressure control, and the like) of any system in the US.

With millions of people now losing their jobs many more will join the ranks of the uninsured. For each 1% increase in unemployment, over one million more folks join those without coverage.

On New Years Day MB and I went to a party held in South Paris, Maine at the home of retired doctor and Cuba solidarity activist Tom Whitney. Tom told me that just days ago a similar health care forum had been held in Augusta that he attended along with 75 others. He said that similar to the one I had gone to, the people in Augusta also resisted the programed questions from Obama and instead spoke out for single-payer health care.

This seems to be contagious. It's spreading like a bad cold. The people are tired of watching the health insurance company executives walk away with $42 million annual bonuses while more go without the ability to see a doctor when sick. There is only one real prescription for this malady and it is free health care for all. Let the "market commodity" system of health care delivery die and instead resuscitate Medicare for everyone across the nation.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


On Christmas day our Addams-Melman housemates gathered to paint self-portraits. This is what I came up with.

In the spirit of self examination I will share my New Years Resolutions.

  • I will continue to criticize politicians who belong to both corporate parties. I won't show any favor to either mainstream party.
  • I won't believe hardly anything I read in the mainstream press.
  • I won't claim to have been influenced by Abe Lincoln, it's becoming over used lately.
  • No more eating between meals...OK, not as much eating between meals. (I am still down 10 pounds from my hunger strike last summer.)
  • I will only buy foam board to make anti-war signs from now on because it lasts longer.
  • I won't begin the baseball season expecting my beloved (#&*@!) Orioles to win any games.
  • I'll try to not say the words "conversion of the military industrial complex" in every conversation I have.
  • I will go cross country skiing as often as my sore legs will allow me.
  • I won't shop at corporate chain stores/restaurants unless I am drugged, dragged, or forced at gun point except on those occasions where I don't have any other options available to me......
  • I won't make excuses for weak or bad behavior.
  • I won't buy the new line of kids Army clothes at Sears stores. I will not be a slave to fashion.
  • I'll listen to music other than The Kinks - sometimes.
  • I won't ever long for Bush-Cheney to kick around anymore.
  • I won't use the word Iraq without adding Afghanistan.
  • If I have to sit-in a Congressional office and be arrested I won't bail out of jail.
  • After I have genuinely reflected on the boundaries of my "personal box" I will summon up the courage to step outside as often as possible.
  • I will walk more often.
  • I promise not to invite Nancy Pelosi to write a fundraising letter on behalf of the Global Network.
  • I will stop expecting the oligarchy to develop a conscience.
  • I won't invest the coins in my penny bottle in any hedge funds or ponzi schemes.
  • I will continue to refuse to pay thousands of $$$ each year for a $15,000 deductible health insurance policy that does me absolutely no good even if it means I remain one of the 48 million without health care.
  • I will (try) to spend less time on the computer and more time reading the old fashioned way.
  • I won't criticize any politician on this blog unless they deserve it.
  • I will call the New York Yankees the "evil empire" every time I look at the major league baseball standings and see them in first place after spending zillions of dollars buying up the best free agent players this winter.
  • I will wean myself from corporate dominated sports, even if it hurts.
  • I will ride my bicycle more.
  • I will everyday remember that the CIA-Mafia runs the world and that we must have a non-violent revolution.
  • I will never, ever expect a savior to get us out from behind the eight-ball.
  • I will trust working in collaboration with others is better than powerless isolation.
  • I will do as my dentist says and floss more often.
  • I will continue to explore and awaken the sleeping artist inside of me, even if it takes forever.
  • I won't step on anyone else's spiritual practice.
  • I will eat more green veggies and fruit.
  • I will not look the other way when I see suffering people in Africa, Palestine, or any where else. Or suffering animals or plants or water or air.
  • I will continue to enlarge my sharing heart.
  • I will attempt to live one precious moment at a time.

That should be enough for one year's work. Wish me luck please.

And best wishes to you in 2009.

Please enjoy The Kinks singing Better Things.