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: Bath, Maine, United States

With a new administration in Washington it will be a challenge to get the 'liberals' to hold Biden-Harris to the few 'progressive promises' they made during their campaign. Biden is bringing back many of Bush & Obama's neo-cons to head his foreign policy. I'll be on this case without hesitation.

Monday, July 20, 2009

MEDIA, MISSILES, AND MONEY

I was up early this morning because I needed to catch a ride with a housemate to nearby Brunswick. I had breakfast at a little local joint and then met Lisa Savage from Solon, Maine who is the coordinator of CodePink in our state. She drove me out to Harpswell where we taped the 71st edition of my cable access TV show This Issue. (The show is now in its 6th year of broadcasting.) Lisa is leading our emerging statewide coalition on Afghanistan organizing so we talked about "the good war." Lisa did a nice job. She's a 9th grade history teacher by trade and a near full-time peace activist on the side.

After the show I was out with our old-fashioned muscle-powered rotator lawn mower to cut the grass before I go on my trip. I am trying to catch up with all my chores before I leave.

I wrote two letters to the editor today in response to pieces in two papers that were giving rare coverage to the "missile defense" issue. The Portland Press Herald ran an op-ed in today's edition written by George W. Bush's former director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, now retired, likely is finding it difficult to enjoy all his free time so he was back at this old habit of wildly exaggerating the nuclear threat from Iran and North Korea. He wondered why Russia was so upset about proposed US deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic. The usual stuff.

The second letter I wrote was to the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. The Alaskan Congressional delegation (Republican and Democrat alike) are complaining about the Obama team's desire to cut $1.4 billion from the MDA's budget in 2010 which means that Bush's proposed deployment of 40 "missile defense" interceptors in Alaska will now be scaled down to about half that amount. They are screaming jobs so I concentrated on the fact that diverting Pentagon funds to build rail, solar, and wind systems would create many times more jobs and help deal with climate change. Not certain they will print my letter but it was worth a try.

I got a call this afternoon from KPFK radio in Los Angeles about doing an interview tomorrow. They want me to reflect on the moon landing anniversary and discuss where the space program is heading these days.

I did two other radio interviews on Saturday, one a 20-minute spot on a Vancouver, Canada station and the other was a two-hour show out of Austin, Texas. I love doing radio interviews because you have to use your imagination to keep the listeners involved.

Last week I heard that plans are now being made to "deorbit" the International Space Station (ISS) in 2016. The ISS was originally going to cost tax payers $10 billion, but like most high-tech space technology programs, the cost kept rising. We've now spent $100 billion on it and just as it finally gets finished it will be dropped back toward Earth where it will burn up on reentry and scatter into the Pacific Ocean. The Washington Post reports, "The rap on the space station has always been that it was built primarily to give the space shuttle somewhere to go. Now, with the shuttle being retired at the end of 2010, the station is on the spot. U.S. astronauts will be able to reach the station only by getting rides on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft."

The ISS was always fundamentally a jobs program for the Central Florida "space coast" and what an expensive one it was. When you begin to track other space projects - things like launch vehicles, military satellites, various space weapons programs - you find similar kinds of massive cost overruns. The space program is a huge boondoggle.

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