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, February 28, 2009


We vigiled our way across the nation's capital yesterday. From 11:30-1:00 pm we joined a silent vigil on the sidewalk in front of the White House organized by the Catholic Worker community on the need to close Guantanamo. There were about a dozen folks (including Kathy Kelly) dressed in prison garb with black hoods up against the black steel White House fence and then a handful of us holding banners and signs alongside. As the throngs of tourists and locals walked by they were offered leaflets and organizers were explaining the issue on a battery-powered sound system. Many people took photos.

The Catholic Workers have been holding the vigil during the first 100 days of the Obama administration as a way to keep the heat on him about torture and Guantanamo. New Attorney General Eric Holder just came back from a visit to the notorious detention center and was quoted in the media saying that it looked like a fine operation.

After a lunch at my favorite restaurant in Washington, the Old Ebbits Grill which is just around the corner from the White House, we moved on to the Pentagon for a 4:00 pm vigil.

We had over 75 folks turn out to what was billed as the opening ceremony for the No Bases Conference. Steel fencing was set up to corral us into a "designated protest area" but it was a great spot - right next to the bus and subway lines which people use to come and go from the Pentagon. Tom Sturtevant and I hung a long Maine Veterans for Peace banner that reads "Stop Endless War - Convert the War Machine" on the barrier and as others joined us for the vigil they put their banners along the fence so it was easy for the steady stream of people passing us to see our messages.

The vigil was attended by folks from Italy, Czech Republic, Okinawa, Germany, Korea, Japan, Guam, Hawaii and from all over the US. A few speeches and some songs made up the program which ended with words from our old friend Art Laffin who has vigiled at the Pentagon every Monday morning for the past 20 some years. Art lives at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker house in DC where we have been staying. He closed his talk by saying that the five sides to the Pentagon should be converted - one for a hospital, one for a child care center, another for a center for peace & nonviolence, an alternative energy research center, and the last side for a bakery.

We will return to the Pentagon on Monday morning for the early 7:00 am weekly vigil.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Writing from the train station in Boston after just arriving from Portland on the bus. Maine Veterans for Peace member Tom Sturtevant is with MB and me for the trip. We will be staying at the Catholic Worker House while in DC. Lots in the news today of importance to us.

The federal budget for 2010 is now being developed by Obama and Congress. Here are some early signs:

* Defense News reports that "The Obama administration has directed defense officials to sign a pledge stating they will not share 2010 budget data with individuals outside the federal government......The Pentagon and Office of Management and Budget have agreed on a fiscal 2010 defense budget top line figure of $537 billion. That level is nearly $50 billion lower than the $585 billion defense plan created during the final months of the Bush administration, and $24 billion higher than the already enacted $513 billion 2009 defense budget."

These dollar figures do not include war funding.

Why is Obama making people working at the Department of Defense sign secrecy agreements? I thought he was going to be open and above board?

* Another news outlet reports "President Barack Obama today will seek $205.5 billion more for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including $75.5 billion through the end of this fiscal year."

Just a few days ago Obama said he was going to cut the federal debt in half during his first term. One way to do this he said was to cut funding for the Iraq occupation. But when he simultaneously expands the Afghanistan operation and moves US troops there from Iraq, won't Obama have to move the money from one war front to the other? Am I missing something here? Please help me out.

* Maine's share of the economic stimulus package will include $160 million for road and bridge repair. Public transit will get $13 million. So much for using the funds to move us from the car culture into new green technologies like expanded rail systems. No vision here - what happens a year or two from now when the roads need repair again and we still don't have a significant public transit system?

* Democrats are urging Secretary of War Gates to "focus missile defense spending on theater systems such as Aegis missile defense system and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, both built by Lockheed Martin Corp, and the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile program run by Raytheon Co and Lockheed.....beefing up spending on theater missile defense systems should be the department's highest missile defense priority given growing concerns about short- and medium-range ballistic missile attacks."

* The Gainesville Sun reports this morning that the head of the University of Florida space nuclear power department, Samim Anghaie, is under investigation by federal investigators for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from NASA. I met Anghaie when our sons played basketball together on the same high school team in Gainesville. The money, to be used to develop nuclear reactors for space missions, was allegedly diverted by Anghaie into personal accounts which he used to purchase six cars, six pieces of real estate, and put into several bank accounts. Anghaie and I used to sit together and talk at ball practices while watching the kids play. It wasn't until some time later that Anghaie and I learned about each others work on the space nukes issue. It's a small world isn't it?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Vermont's Independent-Socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders talks about the need to take our country back from the greedy operators on Wall Street. (After the short video is over you will notice little boxes at the bottom of the screen. You can click on them and see other short videos of Sen. Sanders talking about the economy.)


I leave early in the morning on the car-bus-train (Bath-Portland-Boston-DC) for the National Organizing Conference on US Foreign Military Bases that will be held at American University in Washington, DC. Mary Beth is going and three other members of Maine Veterans for Peace will make the trip as well.

I will speak on a conference panel on Saturday and do a workshop along with friend Tim Rinne, the coordinator at Nebraskans for Peace (the folks that hosted our GN annual space organizing conference in 2008). Also doing the space issues workshop with us will be an activist from the Czech Republic.

Things will begin on Friday with a 4:00 pm vigil at the Pentagon (take yellow or blue line and get off at the Pentagon Metro stop to find the protest). Last I heard there were many folks coming from other countries to the conference - virtually all continents will be represented that today are occupied by US military bases. It should be a great event.

On Sunday night we have tickets to attend a program at George Washington University featuring Wendell Berry, one of the giants in environmental literature -- along with writers Bill McKibben and Gus Speth -- for a night of discussion, poetry and inspiration. They will be joined by authors and activists Terry Tempest Williams and Janisse Ray, as well as Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus. This event is all in preparation for a protest the next day at the Capitol Hill coal burning power plant.

In a letter from McKibben and Berry they call for others to join them in non-violent civil disobedience at the coal plant in order to provide a spark in the movement to stop burning fossil fuels if we hope to successfully deal with climate change. They say, "The industry claim that there is something called 'clean coal' is, put simply, a lie. But it’s a lie told with tens of millions of dollars, which we do not have. We have our bodies, and we are willing to use them to make our point. We don’t come to such a step lightly. We have written and testified and organized politically to make this point for many years, and while in recent months there has been real progress against new coal-fired power plants, the daily business of providing half our electricity from coal continues unabated. It’s time to make clear that we can’t safely run this planet on coal at all."

The coal plant protest will start at noon on Monday, March 2 and we intend to go along to show solidarity.

The No Bases confab and the coal plant protest are not officially linked and it's a shame they are not. Because a primary reason for the expanding US military empire today is about securing and controlling access to natural resources for America's grand energy appetite.

So I will go to each event and in my own mind I will link them. In my heart I will weave the entire experience into one consistent picture of a country out of control with its grand military arrogance and its gross energy consumption. And I will remember that the only escape from our addiction to fossil fuels and militarism is a change in our hearts, the way we live, and also in stepped up political activism.

If we were to cut the enormous military budget we'd have all the money we need to create a real sustainable energy policy for our nation. Neither of these issues can be worked on in isolation.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


* It's my youngest sister Leslie's birthday today. Happy birthday Leslie. Here is a special Kinks song for you called Have a Cuppa Tea

I think you will like the song. Have a good day and keep on the path. The tree above is in Africa and has animals carved into it. Click on the photo for a better look. Age like a tree.

* Our planning group for the April 3 Town Hall Meeting on Economy, Health Care, War & the Environment met last night in Portland. We now have 45 co-sponsors for the event. We have invited our entire Maine Congressional delegation, the Governor, the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, the leader of the Maine Senate, and leaders from the Maine Municipal Association to attend the event. So far we have heard from Congresswomen Chellie Pingree and her daughter Hannah Pingree (Speaker of the House in Maine) that they will be there. We want our elected officials to listen to what the public has to say on these issues. The last time we organized one of these in 2006 we had 500 folks turn out and it was a great event.

* The situation in Pakistan is very intriguing to me. Come to find out the U.S. has not only had the CIA operating inside the country for some time (no surprise there) but also military advisers of a secret task force overseen by the U.S. Central Command and Special Operations Command. In addition, a team of Pakistani air defense controllers are working inside the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to coordinate Pakistani F-16 attacks in the tribal areas. This to me is just astounding - it clearly signifies that the U.S. has been directing a war inside Pakistan for some time and totally compromises the government of Pakistan. It shows they are completely subservient to U.S. control. On one hand the U.S. is bombing and killing civilians in large numbers and the Pakistani government complains about it as the anti-American movement there grows by leaps and bounds. But on the other hand, the U.S. is orchestrating the moves from our embassy. Incredible story.

I heard on the news the other night, can't remember where now, that the Rand Corporation was saying that the U.S. is not targeting the central HQ of the Taliban. Now that is interesting....makes me think the Pentagon wants to drag this thing out. Why? Just like in Iraq, they want to stay a long time. Still can't find Osama.......It's only going to get worse.

* I heard from an old friend via Facebook this morning. We played in a rock and roll band together in high school while living on Beale AFB near Wheatland, California. He now lives in Georgia and we'd not been in touch since about 1971 or so. The band was called The Resurrection. Have to admit that the Internet is pretty cool. Hope space junk doesn't knock out all the good satellites that allow this kind of communication.

* The Global Network has signed onto a statement that went out this morning to the new Attorney General. It reads in part, "We urge Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a non-partisan independent Special Counsel to immediately commence a prosecutorial investigation into the most serious alleged crimes of former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, the attorneys formerly employed by the Department of Justice whose memos sought to justify torture, and other former top officials of the Bush Administration."

See more at:

Monday, February 23, 2009


Sunday, February 22, 2009


* The Orioles have signed a famous Japanese pitcher (famous there anyway) this spring and he has been quite a sensation already down in Ft Lauderdale. As you can see in the photo Koji Uehara is drawing a bunch of media - and about all of them are from Japan.

In Japanese baseball he was twice recognized as the best pitcher of the year and even though now 34 years old folks expect he will perform well for the O's. At least we hope so. Since pitching is in such demand in major league baseball, and especially with my losing team, the fans are thrilled to see him. It's gotten so bad the last few years that even I was offered a chance to pitch for the O's.....but turned down a $2 million offer so I could keep organizing......not.

* We are getting ready for our monthly Addams-Melman House potluck supper here today and have added a new twist to it - game night to follow the food. Suddenly people are coming out of the woodwork to attend. Little do they know that I won the Japanese award for best checker player twice in my career......not. The problem we have tonight is that the supper is at the same time a big snow storm, which is supposed to dump about eight inches more of the white stuff on us, is to hit. So only the hearty will show up. I hope they like checkers.

* I've got a busy week ahead. On Thursday five of us from Maine will travel south to Washington DC for the No Bases conference and while there we are also going to go to the March 2nd protest at the Capitol Hill coal power plant being organized by the Climate Change movement in the US. This protest is supposed to be big. I'll write more about it later this week. Three of us are taking the more carbon friendly Amtrak train to DC.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


President Obama will hold a "fiscal responsibility summit" in Washington next Monday with the goal of reining in government spending. Watch out.

With our federal budget deficit heading toward $1.4 trillion this year, or nearly 10% of our overall economy, something must be done. Look out.

Obama adviser John Podesta says the summit is the first step in a process to help the public "understand how the financial balance sheet of the federal government comes back into order."

Translation: Middle class and poor folks are going to really get nailed.

According to the Washington Post Obama's team has invited big business, economists and a range of other "special interests" to the event which will feature five breakout sessions. Larry Summers (refer to Naomi Klein interview here) will lead the discussion on Social Security. Hold onto your hat.

Former Republican senator Jon Danforth calls it a "media event." He's right, they are preparing the American people for the clamp-down.

The Post also reports that one of the key goals of the summit is, "Controlling spending on a vast social safety net for the elderly and the poor that threatens to bankrupt the government."

Then they say, "Lawmakers also will be asked to dedicate more money to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and perhaps another round of cash to prop up the crippled financial system and to stimulate the sagging economy."

Translation: They want to cut Medicare and Social Security so they can fund two wars and more bailouts for Wall Street. And they will call it "fiscal responsibility." Watch out for this kind of change, it will kill you.

Each day we get another tiny glimpse of the Obama plan. When he went to Canada this past week he told our neighbors to the north that his campaign promise to renegotiate the NAFTA trade agreement would "have to wait."

You might remember that during the campaign one of his top economic aides went to Canada and was caught, in an unguarded moment, telling them that Obama didn't really mean all this fair trade talk about changing NAFTA, it was only a campaign tactic. So in a way he kept this promise - to the Canadians anyway.

Obama is being credited by the Washington pundits as "changing his tone." So he got off Bush's horse, took off his six-shooter holster, and is now "projecting an image of competence and reengagement." In the end most of the big economic and military policies will be much the same but the tone will be more gentle and inclusive.

What about our side? Well, on Tuesday next week, the day after Obama's fiscal responsibility media event, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) will hold a briefing in Washington on his proposal to cut the military budget by 25%. He is inviting organizations to come to the event and to then go home and build support for this version of "fiscal responsibility." So we do have a horse in this race being led by Rep. Frank and it is up to us out here in the hinterlands to put a saddle on it and grab Paul Revere's lantern and begin riding the local circuit and sounding the alarm - "Fiscal responsibility is coming, cut the military budget."

You see there is a war going on inside the Democratic party today. It's a battle between those who want to enable the corporations and those who want to help the people who put them into office. It's time to pick a side in this contest.

We can see the score now. How it turns out is up to you. Take responsibility or face the consequences.

Friday, February 20, 2009


It's snowing here again today. A lighter snow than we had yesterday. Thursday's snow was very wet and shoveling it was like trying to move wet cement. We got our new roof rake which has a very long skinny wobbly handle but I was able to go up onto the back porch landing and rake off a ton of the wet stuff. Then of course I had to remove the snow from the landing - double work. By the time I was finished my gloves were soaked. It costs us $35 to have our long and wide driveway plowed and it breaks my heart to think we have to have it done again today.

OK, I am willing to admit to my friends in Florida that I am ready for spring! (I didn't say I am ready to move back to Florida. I just said I'm ready for spring.)

We are also running out of seasoned wood. Lately we've been mixing in wood not quite cured enough to burn. Quite a few folks we know around here have the same problem. We've had some really cold spells this winter and I guess we just burned the wood up like crazy.

As you can see in the photo above my Baltimore Orioles are down in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for spring training. They are trying a youth movement this spring to see if that will help them stop their 10 losing seasons in a row. They have 37 pitchers trying out for 13 jobs. (Sounds like the present unemployment crisis doesn't it?) They made a couple smart trades this winter and they have baseball's best young prospect in the minor leagues banging on the clubhouse door. I know I am risking losing you right now if I don't stop with all this........

But for me baseball is the call of spring. Growing up it was hard to concentrate in school once baseball season started. I just wanted to be outside playing catch. I used to bring my hat and glove to school and throw the ball with my buddies every chance I had during recess. I was not very interested in math, science, or English once the smell of the new grasses filled the air. Things haven't changed much now except our grass is still covered in snow.

All I ever really wanted to be was a baseball coach. Then I found I couldn't turn away from the madness of the world. But every spring I get pulled back again to the sound of the crack of the bat hitting the ball, the pop of the pitcher throwing the ball into the catchers mitt, and the sounds of the crowd at a game.

Baseball also means optimism. For a few weeks before the season starts every fan entertains the notion that their team just might be able to make a run for the pennant this year. Even with the evidence of 10 losing seasons behind me I still have hope for change - at least for awhile anyway.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


The people of Vicenza, Italy have vigorously opposed plans for a new US air base in their community
130 Czech mayors rallied in Brussels yesterday at the European Union in opposition to
US plans for a Star Wars radar base in their country

Without trying to sound overly dramatic, I think it is fair to say that people around the world detested George W. Bush. President Obama has a short "window of opportunity" to win back hearts and minds as they say. His announcement this week of the troop "surge" in Afghanistan is not a brilliant start.

People in other lands are fed up with the U.S. empire which now numbers more than 800 military bases and come at an astronomical cost to the taxpayers of our nation.

Here are a few highlights from around the globe:

* Calling themselves "the invisibles" protesters paraded outside the EU parliament in Brussels yesterday while 130 Czech mayors assembled inside to speak with many members of the legislative body. Solidarity protests, also using same the white "invisible" costumes, were held throughout major European cities. The invisible theme represents the fact that 70% of the people in the Czech Republic oppose plans for the US Star Wars radar facility in their country. It is not yet known how Obama will move on this Bush deployment plan.

* The New York Times today says, "The Parliament of Kyrgyzstan voted Thursday to terminate the American military’s eight-year lease on an air base outside the capital, Bishkek, and President Kurmanbek Bakiyev is expected to send Washington an official notification requiring it to vacate the base within six months...... The closure of the base, a key logistical hub for American forces in Afghanistan, is a serious complication for President Obama’s plans to deploy as many as 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan over the next two years. The base, in Mana, provides transit facilities for thousands of personnel and 500 tons of cargo each month, and is used by the tanker aircraft that refuel fighter planes on combat missions over Afghanistan."

* Speaking of Afghanistan, 40% of all deaths in that war in 2008 were civilians. This is causing much anger with the people there who are resoundingly demanding that US and NATO forces leave their country. Writing for the International Herald Tribune, William Pfaff asks, "Exactly what do we think we are doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan?" Obama's answer so far is looking for Osama Bin-laden. Do we still believe that one?

* reports: International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei says that Israel’s status as the Middle East’s only nuclear power and its only non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a major obstacle to efforts for global nuclear disarmament. “What compounds the problem is that the nuclear non-proliferation regime has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of Arab public opinion because of the perceived double-standards concerning Israel, the only state in the region outside the NPT and known to possess nuclear weapons.” Though Israel has never formally admitted to its arsenal, it is widely known that it has a considerable number of nuclear weapons. The US is seen by the rest of the world as enabling Israel's nuclear weapons development while lecturing Iran about the evils of nukes. Recently Obama refused to even acknowledge that Israel had nukes which only helped raise the hairs on every one's back throughout the Middle East.

* Germany's Spiegel Online recently reported that top NATO commander in Afghanistan, US General John Craddock, has issued a "guidance" providing NATO troops with the authority "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan." According to the document, deadly force is to be used even in those cases where there is no proof that suspects are actively engaged in the armed resistance against the Afghanistan government or against Western troops. It is "no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective," Craddock writes. German NATO General Ramms made it perfectly clear in his answer to General Craddock that he was not prepared to deviate from the current rules of engagement for attacks, which reportedly deeply angered Craddock.

* Despite ordering the closing of Guantanamo Bay Obama has ordered that the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the US. Intelligence officials say the rendition program will play an expanded role because it is the key remaining mechanism—aside from Predator missile strikes—for taking "suspected terrorists" out of circulation. The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target of international controversy, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured. The European Parliament has condemned renditions as an "illegal instrument used by the United States." Prisoners swept up in the program have sued the CIA as well as a subsidiary of Boeing Corp., which is accused of working with the agency on dozens of rendition flights.

* 2009 is the 60th anniversary of NATO and the US-led alliance is planning big celebrations in Europe to promote their expanded global role as an extension of US foreign and military policy. In 1999, seeking to justify its existence after the collapse of the former Soviet Union, NATO acknowledged that it was seeking to orient itself according to a new fundamental strategic concept. From a narrow military defense alliance it was to become a broad-based alliance for the protection of the vital resource needs (oil/natural gas/etc) of its member states. Besides being mired in Afghanistan today, NATO is now expanding eastward as a tool in the aggressive US program to surround resource rich Russia. There are even discussions now within NATO to take the alliance into the Asian-Pacific to help the US militarily surround China.

From April 3-5, 40 heads of state and government leaders, including President Obama, will come to Strasbourg, France and Baden-Baden, Germany for 60th anniversary events. In response to these events activists from throughout Europe are planning protests in Strasbourg during the period of April 1-5. In order to plan these events 500 activists from 19 countries met at Marc Bloch University in Strasbourg, on February 14-15.

The No to War - No to NATO coalition issued a statement after their meeting that reads in part: "60 years are more than enough – this is the consensus uniting the participants of the peace, anti-globalization movements, leftist parties and organizations, Trade Unions, and student initiatives. They stand against the war policy of NATO, against today's wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, against the intervention strategy and reinforce their claim to 'No to NATO'. They refuse to accept the EU linked with NATO and ask for a drastic reduction of military spending: we do not want to pay for your crisis , nor for your wars."

NATO of course is responding by trying to keep the protests away from Strasbourg. They have arranged for the city government to outlaw protests. In response No to NATO says, "We want to express our rejection of this kind of politics and want to give the citizens of Strasbourg and the social movements the opportunity to publicize their rejection without any obstacles. These are the demands for the prefecture which turned down the proposal of the NATO Preparatory Committee to demonstrate against NATO in the inner city of Strasbourg on 4th of April. The implementation of the NATO Summit will turn Strasbourg into a fortress; this is not acceptable for its own citizens and for the thousands of peaceful demonstrators form all parts of the world.

"Extraordinary security parameters will be enacted: the establishment of a red zone, the labelling of the citizens, the establishment of an all-encompassing new video surveillance system. For us this staging of heads of states in the city centre of Strasbourg – a closed off city – and its inhabitants who will be unable to have a normal daily life, having no freedom of movement, is unbearable and makes it impossible for us to unveil NATO's real face. Whereas the citizens will pay for the summit and the glorified presentation of NATO their dissenting opinion is to be marginalized."

For activists back here in the US it should be reassuring and exciting for us to see so much effort being organized to shut down the US empire. But we have to do our part as well. We can start by calling for the closing of US bases and for major cuts by Congress in the Pentagon's bloated budget. None of us have to do this on our own. When we work together as a globalized movement we can really begin to make progress.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


* More than 100 years after the colonial Spanish-American war, the U.S. has military bases in Guam, the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico. More than 60 years after the end of WWII and 50 after the end of the Korean War, we have 124 base sites in Germany, 124 in Japan, and 87 in South Korea. Even as we recognize the central importance of diplomacy, new bases are being acquired in Latin America, Central Europe and Central Asia.

* Overseas bases are too expensive, especially in a time of economic crisis.
- Costs are estimated at around $140 billion per year.
- Unlike domestic bases, overseas bases suck taxpayer money away from the US.
- They suck money away from critical needs at home and abroad.
- Much of the spending enriches private base contractors like corruption-plagued KBR.

* Our overseas basing structure is damaging our national security not making us safer.
- As in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan, overseas bases become lighting rods for attacks on the US, encouraging resentment, radicalism, and anti-Americanism. Even in countries like Japan and Germany, their negative impacts on “host communities” have resulted in suffering, resentments and protests.
- Overseas bases often harm the nation’s reputation, engender grievances and anger, and create antagonistic rather than cooperative relationships with other nations.

* Overseas bases do not stabilize dangerous regions of the world. They destabilize them.
- They encourage skyrocketing levels of militarization.

- They enlarge the security threat to other nations who respond by boosting military spending.

* Overseas bases increase the likelihood of war
- They encourage our leaders to opt for military rather than diplomatic resolution of conflicts by making it easier and thus more likely to resort to deadly, catastrophic wars, like the war in Iraq, or military interventions in countries like Nicaragua or Somalia.

* Overseas bases inflict terrible costs on local communities and nations.
- Some of the costs include environmental damage, health hazards, social and cultural disruption, increased violence against women, crime, and prostitution.

* Overseas bases inflict painful costs on military families, separating personnel from loved ones and disrupting family life with frequent deployment shifts around the globe.

* Overseas bases lead us to support dictators and repressive, undemocratic regimes.
- Examples include Uzbekistan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

* Congress should hold hearings to examine the overseas basing structure, including its constitutional responsibility to approve SOFAs which are, functionally, treaties.

* We must begin to close our overseas bases to help ensure our and others security. Closing military bases also necessitates cleaning up and removing military toxics so that these sites can safely be put to other uses.

These are the issues that will be featured at the upcoming Security Without Empire: National Organizing Conference on Foreign Military Bases that will be held at American University in Washington DC on February 27-March 2. A protest vigil at the Pentagon will kick off the weekend beginning at 4:00 pm on February 27.

For registration information see the conference web site at:


Who will see?

And who will speak up about the genocide?

Who will remember as the world moves on to other "more important" issues?

The expendable people will perish over time.

Ownership of the land will shift to the new settlers coming from New York city or some other place far away.

But few will notice.

Few really care.

We are like the walking dead now.

We rarely feel.

We've lost our ability to mourn.

Especially for those who have been labeled with the word terrorist by the headline writers of the daily newspaper.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Activists in South Korea protest at US embassy calling for dialogue with the north

I've got several things on my mind today - the economic collapse, the recruitment of our children into the military, and Hillary Clinton over in Japan threatening North Korea. So here goes.

A short video I saw this morning over at AfterDowningStreet's web site got me started again on this rant. The video is called America's Controlled Economic Implosion. The bottom line is that the oligarchy is trying to drive the economy into the ground as a way to essentially undertake the largest transfer of wealth in our nation's history. You can watch the video for yourself right here. In one part of the video you see Rep. Dennis Kucinich saying to one of the Treasury Department operatives "Our question is who you are working for?" My sentiments exactly.

If you read the interview with Naomi Klein below you see her talking about the role Larry Summers played, while at Harvard University, helping to transfer the wealth of Russia into the hands of the oligarchy after the dismantling of the former Soviet Union. So it's not a matter of Wall Street ineptness here - I see it as an intentional process of taking us down to our knees. And most importantly, I see that Obama's team of economic disaster pirates are playing the same grab-and-go strategy as Bush's did. Correct me if I am wrong on this one?

The second thing is about recruitment of kids into the military. This morning I got an email from Veterans for Peace about a place called the Army Experience Center that is inside a shopping mall in Northeast Philadelphia. The photo that went with the email (I couldn't copy it) had a bunch of kids sitting on a Humvee shooting military weapons at this recruiting center in the mall. Reports put the cost of the center at $12 million. Veterans for Peace in Philadelphia just held at protest at the place as a way to draw attention to what is going on there. Good because this place is bad news for us.

I've long been saying that under corporate globalization, or call it the new world order, every country will have a different role. My reading of the tea leaves is that our role, from what I've heard the Pentagon say over the past few years, will be security export.

It's no coincidence we have no manufacturing base in this country any longer. It's no coincidence that we are losing jobs like crazy. It's no coincidence that news reports in the last few days have said military recruitment is picking up because of the economic collapse. The power structure has a plan for us and we don't talk much about it. We rush around putting out fires but do a poor job in our movements of connecting the dots and analyzing the "strategic situation" at hand. We don't do enough talking in our political work about this larger picture so the public can get a better handle on what is really coming down.

Our kids are being prepared for a life of endless war - with few other options. Why in hell are we not screaming our lungs out about this?

The last thing is Clinton - our new Secretary of State. I'm tracking her and Gates (DoD), and Gen. Jones (National Security Adviser) in order to get a sense where Obama is going on foreign policy. Clinton is over in Japan right now and this morning a New York Times article says: Mrs. Clinton also warned North Korea not to undertake a test of a ballistic missile, as it has threatened in recent days. “The possible missile launch that North Korea is talking about would be very unhelpful in moving our relationship forward,” she said after a meeting with the Japanese foreign minister, Hirofumi Nakasone.....Mr. Nakasone said he was not concerned that “the U.S. policy toward North Korea is going to change in any significant way.”

What right does the US have in telling North Korea that they had better not test a missile? Hell, we do it practically every day from Cape Canaveral in Florida, or Vandenberg AFB in California, or White Sands missile test range in New Mexico. The arrogance and double-standard seems to still be a central part of US foreign policy, even under this new administration. Please show me the change?

I'm just trying to read the road signs today. I don't much like what they are telling me.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Here is an interview with Naomi Klein that was printed in the February issue of The Progressive magazine.

The Progressive interview begins with the following introduction of Klein. Matthew Rothschild, the editor of the magazine, conducted the interview.

A columnist for The Nation and The Guardian, Klein published the monumental book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism in 2007, which systematically refutes the claim that democracy and free markets are inseparable. In part, the book is a history of U.S. imperialism since the overthrow of Allende’s Chile. And in part, it’s an exposé on how Milton Friedman and the Chicago school of economics, the U.S. Treasury, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank all do the bidding of U.S. corporations and banks, especially in times of crisis.

Klein was recently profiled in The New Yorker, which called her “the most visible and influential figure on the American left—what Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky were thirty years ago.”

Q: What was your first reaction to Obama’s victory?

Naomi Klein: Well, I made a really conscious choice that I was going to enjoy the night. Obviously, I’m keenly aware of what a centrist Obama is, and that there will be lots of disappointments to follow. But that doesn’t negate the power of that evening. I have some really hard-core anarchist friends, and I told them, “Listen, you’re not going to take this night away from me. I will not hear it the night of.” I was in Washington, D.C., and it was a fantastic night in D.C. It was the night the service sector owned the city.

Q: How so?

Klein: That night I was walking to the apartment where my husband stays, and passing by this really elite, storied club. I always look in the window. It looks like the kind of place where Central American coups are plotted. On this night, a half hour after the results had been announced, there were these two African American men high-fiving each other outside the club. One of them was the doorman for this private club, and the other was a chauffeur for one of the club members. As I was passing, one of the club members came out looking just miserable. He was sort of a Daddy Warbucks character, with just an absolute scowl on his face. I watched these two men who had just been celebrating go back to their posts. One of them opened the door of the club, and the other opened the door of the waiting limousine. And they shared this smile. I just thought: Wow! This is a night where the people holding the doors are having a way better time than the people walking through the doors. And that’s pretty rare in that city.

Q: What kind of movement do you think there is behind Obama, and how do progressives hold him accountable?

Klein: That remains to be seen. We’re in uncharted territory here. The Obama machine is a very weird mix between the most elite Wall Street funding, and the most grassroots, small scale, community organizing models. These two forces brought Obama to power.

Q: Is the community organizer going to win out, or is the collector from Wall Street?

Klein: When you ignite that kind of energy, you can’t necessarily control it. But the Obama campaign has the list. And he is sending a mixed message: He’s saying I’m going to need you. But what does that mean? Is he going to call rallies of hundreds of thousands of people to put pressure on him? No sitting Presidents call rallies to protest themselves. So there has to be a way to break free from that electoral machine.

Q: What do you make of this group of corporatists and Clinton retreads that are surrounding Obama on the economic front?

Klein: I would say it’s disappointing, but we don’t have a right to be disappointed. This is who surrounded Obama during the whole campaign. He’s been taking advice from Larry Summers and Bob Rubin and Paul Volcker all along. He opened up the circle a little bit to people like Joseph Stiglitz and Robert Reich. But to me it’s just shocking—and I know we shouldn’t be shocked—that Larry Summers is [a leading economic adviser]. And even more shocking to me—and I don’t know how to say this in a politically correct way—is that the main thing that people are objecting to is what Summers said at Harvard about women’s aptitude in science. It was an offensive thing to say, and he lost his job for it. But that, to me, is so much less of a crime than the fact that he was the main architect in Treasury for the shock therapy in Russia that impoverished sixty million people—and did a lot of harm to women. He cheer led Boris Yeltsin as he attacked the Russian parliament, dissolved democracy, and suspended the constitution.

And Summers played a key role in the shock therapy in Thailand and South Korea in 1998. So he has a dismal track record. He was standing by Clinton’s side when Clinton abolished Glass-Steagall, which is the key piece of legislation that would have prevented the financial crisis we’re in now. He fought tooth and nail alongside Alan Greenspan to prevent the derivatives industry from being regulated.

The reason I’m so upset about this is because we’re paying the price for the deliberate amnesia that so many of us signed onto during the Bush years, where we were allowed to say whatever we wanted that was critical about U.S. policy, even about the free market, if we said it all started in 2001, when Bush took office.

Obama’s campaign was the ultimate example of this. “This crisis that we’re seeing is the result of the deregulation policies that have been in place for the past eight years.” No, not eight years! The key pieces of legislation were passed under Clinton. We all turned the other way, and we allowed these lies to be repeated. And we thought, we’ll just get rid of Bush, and let them have their strategy. Well, this is the result of that strategy: Larry Summers is treated like the savior of the economy.

Q: Obama is an intelligent man. Surely, he knows this litany. So why do you think he is lining up with people like Summers? Is that where he is politically? Or is he trying to please the pundits and the power establishment? Is he trying to please Wall Street?

Klein: Politicians don’t take the kind of bold risks that we really need in this moment. People are talking about the need for a green New Deal, and comparing this moment to the early 1930s, and they’re right. But what led FDR to take those risks and be that bold was that he was under enormous pressure from grassroots movements from below. In the absence of that, Obama’s under tremendous pressure not to shock the system.

I don’t think we should play down the fact that the market plunged after Obama was elected, and that’s incredibly traumatic for a leader. In a time of market volatility, there are very few political leaders who can withstand watching that. If he were to have appointed Joseph Stiglitz as Treasury Secretary, the market would have plummeted. The market wants continuity. The market wants to know it’s the same club.

Q: By the way, how did you react to Alan Greenspan’s confession that he’d found a flaw in his theory?

Klein: This is an amazing moment for the left, for progressives. Because the free market ideology is truly in crisis. Greenspan said he believed the banking industry could self-regulate because trust and reputation are important assets in the market. What he didn’t calculate for is just greed. That’s a completely implausible story. This is a man who was an Ayn Rand protégé. His whole philosophy was that greed is the primary driving force in all of humanity. So how could Alan Greenspan be surprised by greed? The prime regulator of the global economy for eighteen years did not calculate that bankers might be greedy?

Q: What’s your critique of the bailout of the banks?

Klein: This bailout was the Bush Administration’s last trough. Like the Iraq War, it was a cash machine, where private companies withdraw funds and pay them back in the form of campaign contributions. The Bush Administration cut an incredibly bad deal with the banks. We know how bad it is because five days earlier Britain’s Gordon Brown negotiated a deal to purchase equity in exchange for a capital injection. He got a 12 percent return, a seat on the board, voting rights, and he got guarantees that they would use the capital injection to lend money to small businesses and homeowners. So, five days later, Henry Paulson comes up with his terms: 5 percent as opposed to 12 percent, no voting rights, no seats on the board, and no guarantee that the money will be spent doing what they said it was intended to do: to get lending going.

The stakes are so huge. Think about $700 billion that we’re just throwing away. Then the right turns around and says, “About all that ‘yes, you can’ stuff, No, you can’t. We’re broke.”

We all have a huge stake in stopping this heist.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Haven't we heard all this before?

Precision munitions, only firing at militants..........

Here is an even more revealing video done by the UK's Guardian from Afghanistan


* It's an older graphic above from 2005. US military spending in 2009 is well over $700 billion a year - actually up to $1 trillion if you count in Iraq and Afghanistan and we should. Still, as we watch for signs of Obama and Democratic Party thinking of cutting the Pentagon budget, nothing new to report. We'll keep our eyes on the story.

* The news yesterday about US unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's) being based in Pakistan should cause holy hell to break out in that nation considering they are being used to bomb and kill people inside their own country. I am still as convinced as ever that the US intends to destabilize Pakistan to the point that Obama says, "Hey, look how dangerous Pakistan is and remember, they have nuclear weapons. We are going to have to take over the country so we can make sure that the nukes don't fall into the hands of terrorists." Look at a map - Pakistan lies just south of Afghanistan and borders on the Arabian Sea. The oil corporations want the pipelines to run from the Caspian Sea southward through Afghanistan and Pakistan to ports on the Arabian Sea. It's a no-brainer.

* The word is out that Obama will form a commission in the next week or two that will begin undertaking the task to "reform" Social Security. You've likely heard Obama and other Democrats say "We are all going to have to sacrifice." Well this is a big part of the plan. They are going to do what Bush could never get away with. Hold onto your hats, and your Social Security checks, because this is going to be a bumpy ride. One wag is quoted as saying, "According to inside gossip, the task force will be led entirely by economists who were not able to see the $8 trillion housing bubble, the collapse of which is giving the country its sharpest downturn since the Great Depression."

* Things are moving along nicely for the Global Network 17th annual space organizing conference that will be held in Seoul, South Korea on April 16-18. It looks like we are going to have a great delegation of our key leaders present from England, Sweden, India, US, Australia, Japan, and from Korea. (Other peace activists from Italy and the Philippines will also be present.) From the US we'll have people representing Veterans for Peace, Nebraskans for Peace, Citizens for Peace in Space in Colorado, the Humanists, and the staff of the Global Network. On days before or after the conference we will be going to visit people who are struggling against a US military training area expansion at Mugeon-ri. The US wants to use the training area to practice war plans with North Korea. There has been much resistance to this expansion plan for the past several years by the farmers who live there with many protests and arrests.

* The new military draft plan? According to the today's New York Times, "Stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American military will begin recruiting skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas, offering them the chance to become United States citizens in as little as six months......The program will begin small — limited to 1,000 enlistees nationwide in its first year, most for the Army and some for other branches. If the pilot program succeeds as Pentagon officials anticipate, it will expand for all branches of the military. For the Army, it could eventually provide as many as 14,000 volunteers a year, or about one in six recruits."

* Nothing new to report from baseball spring training.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I just went to see the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

OMG I loved it, what a film. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

It's a moving story about the lives of two brothers from the slums in India.

Having been to India on a speaking tour a couple of years ago, and having taken the trains over a large part of the country, made the story even more interesting.

I was stunned by the whole film. It really captures the two realities of India - grinding poverty and the introduction of western values, consumerism and capital.

You will not be disappointed after watching this masterpiece.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Enjoy The Kinks.

I'm off to a meeting. More later.............................

I'm back and strongly suggest you read this article by John Judis called End The Honeymoon:
Why the left is to blame for the lackluster stimulus and bank bailout

He is editor of The New Republic which is a "liberal" publication that I usually would not give much time to. But in this instance he is right on. He makes a strong case that the "left" in the US is in the bag and should be pushing Obama hard on all the issues we face today. It's worth reading or watching below:

Here is another version of the same basic message written by Chris Floyd called Shock Absorbers: Progressives Stunned by Obama Non-Surprises.

And another point of view from Chris Bowers at Open Left with a piece called We are not a Movement.

This is a crucial debate starting up about how we should now be organizing and whether or not we should be critical or accommodationist with Obama. This debate needs to multiply rapidly amongst grassroots activists.

I read an article last night, written by old friend Tom Santoni from St. Augustine, Florida, that was a real personal testimony of a true activist. Tom called for the impeachment of Obama. This was not a light-headed rant but a real serious reflection on his own desire to be consistent. He said that if he was going to hold Bush to account for crimes against humanity, like killing innocent civilian people with US military drones, then he had to do the same with Obama who just a couple days into office sent the military drones into Pakistan (a sovereign nation). These unmanned aerial vehicles killed some number of children and other innocent folks.

I wrote Tom and told him that I totally supported his position. I was on the street when Clinton was killing people in Yugoslavia, in Iraq, in Haiti, and other places. Few other activists joined us during those days. They did not want to offend other Democrats or offend organizational donors who were Democratic party loyalists.

You can't have a movement that holds power accountable and be a party functionary at the same time. Sometimes you have to fish or cut bait.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 12, 2009


* Some good news for once. The $50 billion in taxpayer loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors and "clean coal" plants has been stripped from the final economic stimulus bill. Thousands of calls and emails were sent to Congress in an effort led by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS). In an email this morning the groups says, "But make no mistake: the nuclear industry and its Congressional backers will try again, and sooner rather than later. Two days ago, for example, they began a new push to have nuclear power declared a 'renewable' energy source in Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman's (D-NM) upcoming Renewable Portfolio Standard bill, which is intended to increase renewable energy production in the U.S. (although first indications are that the bill is much weaker than it should be). This is likely to become a major issue in March." Stay tuned.

* More space junk is on the way after an American commercial communications satellite collided in orbit yesterday with a "nonoperational" Russian satellite 490 miles above northern Siberia. There will be lots of debris now flying at 15,000 mph that folks worry could severely damage the International Space Station (ISS). Many scientists have long predicted that someday the ISS would be destroyed by orbiting space junk as more and more of it is created by the tremendous growth of human space activity and the accidents that come with it. The parking lot in space is getting crowded so expect to see more of this. If too much space debris is created in orbit it makes the launching of rockets off the Earth problematic as it would resemble someone trying to swim through shark infested waters.

* My home town newspaper, the Brunswick Times Record, yesterday ran a great editorial called Bath-built wind turbines? that gave strong support to a campaign by workers inside the Bath Iron Works Navy shipyard who are circulating petitions calling on Maine political leaders to "work as hard for the offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Maine as they do going after contracts from the military." The editorial features worker Peter Woodruff who initiated the petition drive. Maine media has reported that offshore wind turbines put in the Gulf of Maine could create the equivalent amount of power as 100 nuclear plants. The plan calls for 1,000 wind turbines that could create 30,000 jobs in the state if they were produced here. "This is a national security issue," they quoted Woodruff as saying, explaining that our country's over-dependence on oil makes us vulnerable to wars in the Middle East and turbulence in supplies and prices. This is the kind of worker organizing we need to see all over the nation. Congrats to Woodruff and his fellow workers.

* Today is a National Call-In Day to Congress in support of a single-payer health care plan. Health care is a human right - take the profit and the insurance companies out of the system. Congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121. White House: 202-456-1414. If your Congress member is a current co-sponsor, thank your representative and ask them to stand firm for HR 676 and actively seek additional co-sponsors. If your member has yet to co-sponsor HR 676, ask them to please become a co-sponsor, select one or two talking points here.

* Just a warning. Baseball spring training begins this weekend so be on the look out for more from me on the status of the Baltimore Orioles in 2009. They made quite a few trades and free agent signings over the winter. Hope for a winning season springs eternal!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Renowned journalist (The Nation) William Greider lays it right out on this short video. He says the Democrats have helped create this mess in cooperation with the Republicans.

You want hope? If you do then I highly recommend that we all stop being unquestioning loyalists for either political party as evidence is quite abundant that they are carrying water for the Wall Street, energy, weapons, insurance, agri-business, and pharmaceutical corporate interests.

The American people have one major advocate - ourselves. And if we want real change, and real hope, then we'd better quickly realize that no knight on a shiny white horse is going to ride up and save us from this mess.

Our saviour will be each other so we'd better not let the oligarchy talk us into turning on each other as this economy continues to collapse. Instead we have to turn to each other, take one anther's hand, and fight with and for one another.

Cooperation, unity of purpose, looking out for each other - these are the antidotes to despair and resignation. Build a movement of the people, by the people, for the people.

Give up the notion that the rich and the powerful give a damn about us. They are out to make us slaves - in the 21st century sense.


The New York Times is reporting that the House & Senate have reached an agreement on the final stimulus package. It will run $789 billion (about $100 billion less than first expected) and is already causing some serious upset by more progressive members of Congress.

The Times reports: Even before the last touches were put to the bill, the emerging deal infuriated some Democrats who said that President Obama and Congressional leaders had been too quick to give up on Democratic priorities. Some critics also suggested that the final figure was too small to be effective because of the grave condition of the American economy.

“I am not happy with it,” said Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa. “You are not looking at a happy camper. I mean, they took a lot of stuff out of education. They took it out of health, school construction and they put it more into tax issues.”

Mr. Harkin said he was particularly frustrated by the money being spent on fixing the alternative minimum tax. “It’s about 9 percent of the whole bill,” he said, “which we were going to do later this year in a tax bill. Why is it in there? It has nothing to do with stimulus. It has nothing to do with recovery. This makes no sense whatsoever.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


And tell the same to your own Congressional delegation. We need sustainable (real green) technologies.

Monday, February 09, 2009


With this pie chart in mind I thought I'd write a few things as Obama holds his first news conference as president tonight.

Opening remarks: "Tax cuts alone" can't create jobs, he says.

Last I heard 40% of the stimulus package was going to tax cuts.

After passing both the House and Senate the $827 billion package will go to a conference committee to hammer out their differences. The Senate put in more tax cuts than the House did. The Senate cut out alot of money for aid to states who are in fiscal crisis.

I wrote the members of Maine's Congressional delegation tonight asking them to take out the $50 billion nuclear industry subsidy. They won't do it.

In his opening remarks Obama said nothing about the military budget which is eating up the vast majority of every tax dollar.

The first question to him from the media asked if he was being too negative about the state of the economy - essentially scaring people. "I'm absolutely confident we can solve this problem, but we are going to have to take some significant steps," Obama replied.

One significant step does not appear to be cutting the Pentagon budget.

He is falling into the Republicans trap about responding to their criticisms that government should not be spending so much money.

He should go on the offensive and talk about the cost of two wars and the 50% increase in military spending during the Bush years and make the point that we have to move money from there into creating green jobs - we need to create an industrial base that will lay a solid foundation for creating jobs. That means mass transit systems, wind turbines, solar and more which would require massive investment. Obama and Congress are only throwing pennies at these technologies.

The second question is about Iran. His response: "Iran's actions have been unhelpful when it comes to promoting peace and prosperity around the world....we will be looking for's not going to happen overnight....a nuclear Iran could set off a nuclear arms race in the region that could be unstable [nothing said about Israel's nuclear weapons]."

Third question about bi-partisanship in Congress. He gets defensive saying "I didn't underestimate" the difficulties of working with the Republicans....He complains once again about Congress "playing the usual games". He just slammed the Republicans for presiding over a "doubling of the national debt" but doesn't mention that alot of that was the cost of two wars and legions of expensive high-tech weapons systems.

His answers are much too long. He comes across as argumentative and lecturing. He sounds frustrated already.

4th question - consumer spending - should people who gets tax cuts save or spend? Does not answer directly but says once we get stabilized we are going to have to make serious cuts (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) because "there is no such thing as a free lunch."

5th question - don't we have to give the banks more money to really solve the credit crisis? "My immediate task is to make sure that the second half of the money ($350 billion of the original bank bailout) must not be wasted."

It's clear that trying to put band-aids on capitalism's collapse just won't cut it. We need major systemic reform and neither Obama nor the Congress are going anywhere near that task.

He keeps talking about the economy "growing again" but we must ask - grow from what? What do we make in this country? We are a nation of paper pushers and service industries. How can we grow when we don't have an industrial base (other than military) to create jobs for people?

A question on Iraq. Four GI's killed in Iraq today. He calls them "our fallen heroes." "We are reviewing policies now." Shortest answer of the night.

Afghanistan - Obama says the government there is "detached" which is code language for we need to change the leadership. "Through going review" underway. (Sounds like Vietnam talk) "Bottom line is the region served as a base to launch the attack" on 9-11. "We cannot allow the terrorists to operate there." He continues the phony lingo of the war on terror. Mentions Bin-laden. Sounded much like King George II on this one.

Helen Thomas, the oldest member of the White House press corps who Bush would never call upon because she always had tough questions, asked him which countries in the Middle East have nuclear weapons today. "I don't want to speculate," he responded ignoring the fact that Israel has them. The US government sure doesn't mind "speculating" about Iran's nuclear program! Talk about a double standard - and the rest of the world knows it. He then talked about the US and Russia needing to get back to negotiations on nukes and honoring the NPT. The key to that happening is US willingness to back off "missile defense" deployments in Europe.

Question about prosecuting the Bush pirate team for crimes. He avoided a response at first and talked about how he is not going to torture. Then he came back and said, "Nobody is above the law and if there are clear instances of wrong doing then people should be prosecuted just like ordinary citizens. But, I want to look forward rather than backward."

Here's a prediction - we are going to see alot of this kind of talk from Obama. On the one hand and then again on the other hand. He is slippery at times.

He ends the news confab and turns to walk back down the long red carpet lined hallway. His advisers will slap him on the back and tell him he did a great job. But the doubts will linger in his mind. He knows he blew off Helen Thomas. He knows he gave short shrift to Iraq and Afghanistan. He knows the economy is in big trouble and that more tax cuts aren't going to create the jobs that are needed.

Listening to C-SPAN they took citizen calls after it was over. The 2nd call was an old woman and when they asked her if she supported the stimulus package she replied, "If it was going to help the poor people I would, but I think it is only going to help the rich."


We've had such heavy snows here in Maine that the snow and ice buildup on our house roof has created huge ice jams with long ice cycles hanging from the gutters.

Yesterday was an unseasonably warm day so Maureen, Mary Beth, and I went out and began pulling snow off the roof and then we literally had to hatchet the ice in an attempt to break it to pieces and free the roof before the ice creates serious damage to the house.

We spent about four hours working on it til our gloves and clothes were soaked to the bone. But we got most of the job done for now.

This week I will buy a roof rake so next time it snows we can immediately rake off the snow and avoid this mess in the future.

Sometimes we learn the hard way.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

NY Times: "You Try to Live on 500K in This Town"

Saturday, February 07, 2009



An event called Security Without Empire: National Organizing Conference on Foreign Military Bases will be held at American University in Washington D.C. on Feb. 27–Mar. 2, 2009.

There is a sense of relief that many here in the U.S. feel after the presidential election, but we understand this is a time to step up our organizing for peace and economic justice - including the growing movement to close and withdraw the nearly 1,000 U.S. military bases located in foreign nations.

From Okinawa and Guam to Honduras, Germany, Iraq, and beyond people who have suffered from the abuses inherent to foreign military bases have been calling for their withdrawal. People in the U.S. have joined this call, outraged by the damage done by U.S. bases abroad and by their expense, which diverts $138 billion a year from addressing human needs and revitalizing our economy.

A broad coalition of groups from across the U.S. is organizing the conference including the Global Network, Veterans for Peace, FOR, CodePink, AFSC, United for Peace & Justice and Peace Action. Bruce Gagnon and GN affiliate Tim Rinne (Nebraskans for Peace) will be doing a workshop on space issues at the conference.

The conference will feature base opponents from many “host” nations and will include leading activists as keynote speakers, panelists and workshop facilitators. Monday, March 2, will be a lobbying day on Capitol Hill, in which we encourage as many conference attendees as possible to participate. The conference will begin with a protest vigil at the Pentagon on Feb 27 from 4-5 pm at the Pentagon Metro stop (take yellow or blue Metro line to get there).

For more information contact: or (617) 661-6130.

Friday, February 06, 2009


The stimulus package debate rages in the US Senate as a cadre of about 20 "moderate" Republican and Democrat senators (led by our two Maine women Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins) try to cut a $100 billion from the final bill. They say that funding things like Head Start and school construction won't create enough jobs. Really, hiring more teachers and teachers aides and workers to sustainably remodel or build new energy efficient schools won't create jobs? What planet have I been living on anyway?

The funny thing is that few on either side of the aisle are complaining about the $50 billion subsidy for the nuclear power industry that sits in the package.

I thought the whole idea was to create green jobs. We know that investing in alternative and sustainable energy technologies is the best way to create good jobs and deal with climate change.
Building more nuclear power plants is not green jobs. But it is "green washing" as the nuclear industry tries hard to sell themselves as a viable alternative. Obviously it seems to be working with the Congress.

Road building, which is slated to get $30 billion in the stimulus package, is not green jobs. Mass transit is though but is only going to get $10 billion.

So the big change is really small change.

I got a call from Washington last night, and have been getting tons of emails in recent days, from progressive groups telling me to go to the wall for the stimulus package. But I have to admit I am not very excited about the whole process.

Maybe my skepticism comes from looking at the crew that Obama has assembled that he calls his "economic team". To me they look like four retread tires on a car careening off the cliff. But that is just my opinion.

One guy I do respect though is activist and writer David Sirota who is best known for having organized the campaign to get a Democratic senator elected ( Sen. Jon Tester) in the conservative state of Montana.

In a piece today Sirota says, " Obama's economic team is filled with the same deregulating, pro-bailout, pro-NAFTA, pro-outsourcing hacks whose policies brought the economy to its knees. And that's not just at the top levels, as we see, it's all throughout the government's economic bureaucracy. And, of course, the new economic advisory board Obama announced today has just two representatives from organized labor, and is teeming with right-wing economists (Martin Feldstein of the Reagan administration); CEOs from corporate outsourcers (GE and Caterpillar) and Wall Street firms (UBS); and board members from bailed-out investment houses (Laura Tyson from Morgan Stanley). "

So excuse me for not busting my gut with pride and joy over the sausage making going on in Washington over the stimulus. In the end a massive bill will pass and it will essentially do little to change the real dynamic in America that is leading to our economic collapse. And just what am I referring to?

I am referring to the fact that the powers that be have reduced our economic role in the world to one where we build weapons and export violence. We don't make our own clothes anymore nor do we build much of anything else. But we are the world's best at making machines to kill people.

When I hear Obama and the Congress start talking about converting the military industrial complex so that we can build wind turbines, rail systems, a solar society, and the like then I will get really excited about what is going on in Washington.

In the meantime I will keep banging my drum and chanting my mantra - jobs are best created when we go green. And I'm talking real green not the phony baloney stuff that is being pedaled as green these days.

Peace out.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


The February 2 launch of a television satellite by Iran has got the juices flowing in “pro-missile defense” quarters in the US.

Former professional football player Riki Ellison, who now leads the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, used the launch as another opportunity to frighten people into thinking that Iran was now poised to fire one of their non-existent nuclear weapons at the US.

In an email alert to his list Ellison declared, “The time is now, to accelerate our country's deployment and development of missile defense both domestically and internationally. We as a nation and a world cannot be held hostage by an Iranian or North Korean long-range ballistic missile with a weapon of mass destruction targeted at one or more of our cities. Furthermore, deployment of missile defense renders Iran's and North Korea's future ICBMs useless and dissuades Iran and North Korea from investing and building these long range missiles while increasing stability in the region with our allies and giving our diplomatic initiatives more time to succeed.”

Similar dire warnings were sounded from the freshly painted interior of the White House as President Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs told the nation: "Efforts to develop missile delivery capability, efforts that continue on an illicit nuclear program, or threats that Iran makes toward Israel, and (Iran's) sponsorship of terror, are of acute concern to this administration."

If necessary, Gibbs threatened, the U.S. "will use all elements of our national power" to deal with Iran's nuclear plans.

But once you get outside of the borders of the US most experts are not so alarmed about the dangers of Iran’s TV satellite launch. After all, countries all over the world these days are getting into the launch business and putting their own communications satellites into orbit. But when Iran or Venezuela joins the space race, then suddenly it is a big threat to the US because we claim to be the “Masters of Space” and only those we anoint are “allowed” to have access to space.

Andrew Brooks, at London's Royal Institute of International Affairs, said the Iranian satellite launch is "a simple act of propaganda within the framework of a civilian programme. This will not have any impact whatsoever on their nuclear capability.”

He said they want to put a television satellite into orbit "that could carry their message throughout the Middle East."

Iran's government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham on Thursday reiterated the scientific purpose of launching the country's first domestically made satellite, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"The launch of Omid (Hope) satellite into orbit is totally scientific and has nothing to do with military purposes," Elham was quoted as saying, adding that remarks made by “certain countries” are aimed at diverting the discussion.

The proponents of “missile defense” in the US are feeling fortunate that Iran has launched the satellite. It will surely help provide some political cover for a program that is now walking the budget tightrope during a severe economic crisis.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), who serves as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, recently told reporters that Congress would focus on the existing missile defense program early this year. He notes the program "has problems" and needs to be put up against a more rigorous testing program that deals with real-world scenarios.

One of the places where George W. Bush deployed missile defense systems was in Alaska. Reacting to the words of Sen. Levin, newly elected Alaska Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat, told newspapers in his state that any proposed reductions in the program must be accompanied by “military-focused justifications”. He noted many in Congress and the White House are looking to cut spending in some areas to finance an economic recovery plan and called the missile defense system, an “economic powerhouse” in Alaska.

“For now, no one in a position to know has shown me that reducing Alaska’s missile defense system makes any sense for our state or nation,” Begich said.

It should be noted that Sen. Levin is not opposed to missile defense systems. In fact he, through the last 20 years, has regularly supported the Pentagon’s requests for research and development (R & D) spending during both Republican and Democrat administrations. Levin has just taken the traditional Democratic-party line that deployments should not be rushed and that fully funding R & D and testing should continue. Once a system proves workable, then Levin supports deployment.

According to the United Press International, “The final goal is a layered architecture in which ballistic missiles launched against U.S. territory, forces, or allies will face several lines of defense that cumulatively thin out or completely eliminate the threat.

“The Missile Defense Agency does not expect any particular layer or weapon system to function perfectly.”

So those of us who oppose the dangerous and wasteful Star Wars program need to begin gearing up now for the coming debate in Congress. We should build our case by saying that continuing “missile defense” funding will only serve to create a new arms race at a time when our national economic collapse calls on us to invest in real job creating energy programs like rail, wind, solar, home weatherization, and more.