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

Thursday, December 31, 2009


My new year greetings and best wishes to all of you.

Thanks for sharing the past year with me.....the next one is likely to be just as rocky. Keep checking in here with me as I do my best to stay faithful to the struggle for true peace and real justice and share some stories about other good hearted souls on the same path.

My one request? Let me hear more from each of you in the coming year....gimme more feedback.

Always know that what each of you do indeed does make a least to me it does. You remind me that we are not alone and that is something very important.

OK, now let's get down to the important stuff here. Key reasons why I am a Kinks and Ray Davies fan are:

1) His sense of humor as you will see in the song lyrics below in the face of all kinds of problems

2) His touching sentimentality.....

3) His ability to get people to sing along with his social critique (an organizers dream I'd say)

Don't ever give up....I won't. I am planning to be on the picket line to the bitter end if need be. What could be more important than working hard, with wonderful people, to help make the world a better place for the future generations.....and all our relatives (the animals, the plant life, the water, the air, the sky, the rocks, the ground)?

We humans think we are so smart but we forget we are animals too....the spider knows what its job spin the web - so do your job - help keep the fires burning for all our relatives.

Peace out til next year. Let's make it a more determined and active one - together.



Written by: Ray Davies (The Kinks)

Oh what a lovely day today,
I'm oh so glad they sent me away,
To have a little holiday today, holiday.
And I'm just standing on the end of a pier,
Hoping and dreaming you were here,
To share my little holiday.

Lookin' in the sky for a gap in the clouds,
Sometimes I think that sun ain't never coming out,
But I'd rather be here than in that dirty old town,
I had to leave the city cos it nearly brought me down.

Oh holiday, oh what a lovely day today,
I think I'll get down on my little ol' knees and pray, thank you Lord,
Thank heaven for that holiday today, holiday.
I'm leaving insecurity behind me,
The environmental pressures got me down,
I don't need no sedatives to pull me round,
I don't need no sleeping pills to help me sleep sound.

Oh holiday,
Oh what a lovely day today,
I think I'll get down on my little ol' knees and pray,
That's what I'll do,
Thank heaven for that holiday.

Lying on the beach with my back burned rare,
The salt gets in my blisters and the sand gets in my hair,
And the sea's an open sewer,
But I really couldn't care,
I'm breathing through my mouth so I don't have to sniff the air.

Oh holiday,
Oh what a lovely day today,
I'm so glad they sent me away,
To have a little holiday.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Updated version with much more details......


* The US bombs Yemen and it is taken as a given that expanding the "war on terror" is the only thing to do. We are becoming slaves to endless war and we seem to gladly carry our chains around with us.

* Last night it was just Karen Wainberg and me on the corner in Bath for our weekly Bring Our War $$ Home vigil. The wind was blowing 40 mph and the weatherman was saying that with the wind chill it was essentially 15 degrees below zero. We stayed 20 minutes. The wind on the face was rough.

* This speech above, by Jaribu Hill, Exec. Dir. of the Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights, fits into the must listen to category. She makes it real.....we have to connect the war spending to economic collapse here at home.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I interviewed my friend Mark Roman recently on my show called This Issue.

Mark is a leader of the group called Waterville Area Bridges for Peace & Justice

His interview marked the sixth anniversary of my cable show that now plays on eight stations across Maine.

Monday, December 28, 2009


I had the honor of meeting Dennis Brutus a couple times over the years. He took a great interest in our space issues work and tried to do what he could to spread the word about the efforts of the Global Network. He came to speak at one of our annual space organizing conferences several years back in Washington DC. At the US Social Forum in Atlanta several years ago he came to a workshop I was involved in to offer words of support for our work. Dennis was a true revolutionary to the end. If there was an important fight going on he wished to be a part of it.

Dennis Vincent Brutus, 1924-2009

World-renowned political organizer and one of Africa’s most celebrated poets, Dennis Brutus, died early on December 26 in Cape Town, in his sleep, aged 85.

Even in his last days, Brutus was fully engaged, advocating social protest against those responsible for climate change, and promoting reparations to black South Africans from corporations that benefited from apartheid. He was a leading plaintiff in the Alien Tort Claims Act case against major firms that is now making progress in the US court system.

Brutus was born in Harare in 1924, but his South African parents soon moved to Port Elizabeth where he attended Paterson and Schauderville High Schools. He entered Fort Hare University on a full scholarship in 1940, graduating with a distinction in English and a second major in Psychology. Further studies in law at the University of the Witwatersrand were cut short by imprisonment for anti-apartheid activism.

Brutus’ political activity initially included extensive journalistic reporting, organising with the Teachers’ League and Congress movement, and leading the new South African Sports Association as an alternative to white sports bodies. After his banning in 1961 under the Suppression of Communism Act, he fled to Mozambique but was captured and deported to Johannesburg. There, in 1963, Brutus was shot in the back while attempting to escape police custody. Memorably, it was in front of Anglo American Corporation headquarters that he nearly died while awaiting an ambulance reserved for blacks.

While recovering, he was held in the Johannesburg Fort Prison cell which more than a half-century earlier housed Mahatma Gandhi. Brutus was transferred to Robben Island where he was jailed in the cell next to Nelson Mandela, and in 1964-65 wrote the collections Sirens Knuckles Boots and Letters to Martha, two of the richest poetic expressions of political incarceration.

Subsequently forced into exile, Brutus resumed simultaneous careers as a poet and anti-apartheid campaigner in London, and while working for the International Defense and Aid Fund, was instrumental in achieving the apartheid regime’s expulsion from the 1968 Mexican Olympics and then in 1970 from the Olympic movement.

Upon moving to the US in 1977, Brutus served as a professor of literature and African studies at Northwestern (Chicago) and Pittsburgh, and defeated high-profile efforts by the Reagan Administration to deport him during the early 1980s. He wrote numerous poems, ninety of which will be published posthumously next year by Worcester State University, and he helped organize major African writers organizations with his colleagues Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe.

Following the political transition in South Africa, Brutus resumed activities with grassroots social movements in his home country. In the late 1990s he also became a pivotal figure in the global justice movement and a featured speaker each year at the World Social Forum, as well as at protests against the World Trade Organisation, G8, Bretton Woods Institutions and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

Brutus continued to serve in the anti-racism, reparations and economic justice movements as a leading strategist until his death, calling in August for the ‘Seattling’ of the recent Copenhagen summit because sufficient greenhouse gas emissions cuts and North-South ‘climate debt’ payments were not on the agenda.

His final academic appointment was as Honorary Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society, and for that university’s press and Haymarket Press, he published the autobiographical Poetry and Protest in 2006.

(By Patrick Bond)


Philip Dine is a Washington-based journalist, frequent speaker on labor and politics, and author of the recent State of the Unions: How Labor Can Strengthen the Middle Class, Improve Our Economy, and Regain Political Influence.

To me he is a bit timid and I think this is more evidence how most labor unions are afraid to really take on corporate power in the US. The answer to the union's problems is not to crawl in bed with the Republicans. Until union leaders get a real class and power analysis, and really fight for workers, they will continue to decline.


I went to see the new movie Avatar recently and like many others found it to essentially be a film trashing US military "snatch and grab" operations to control resources on behalf of greedy corporations. In this case it is a story about the US trying to control an entire planet for their "unobtainium".

While in the car today, listening to right-wing talk radio, I heard a woman call in and say that she had walked out of the film because it was portraying the Marines as the bad guy. She said her Marine son, home for the holidays, stayed and watched the whole film along with her husband.

It is good that the woman got the message. And it is good that millions of Americans, seduced by the 3-D fantasma-gorgia-optics of the movie, will see it. It is indeed a picture of our satiable appetite for resources, our nature killing ways, and our propensity for shock and awe when we want the natural resources that other people happen to be sitting on.

It's not likely the woman, her husband, and her solider son would have knowingly gone to a movie with such a story line. But because of public's love for "the lastest entertainment" they couldn't resist the hoopla surrounding this 3-D extravaganza.

The real question is - will watching this movie get people out of their seats into the peace movement or inclined at all to "see and feel" how we are now destroying our own planet for corporate profits?

David Swanson had this to say about that question: "When I saw 'Avatar' in a packed 3-D theater in Virginia, and the crowd cheered the closing shot, I shouted: 'And get out of Iraq too!' No one cheered for that. But no one called me a traitor either."

Knowing is one thing but doing something takes a another big step. Let's hope Avatar helps move people from docility to action.

Like Swanson says in his post on the film: "Did you know that the Na'vi people are real, their troubles are real, and you can be a hero who saves them? It's true! The story of 'Avatar' is the story of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries attacked and occupied by U.S. mercenaries and U.S. troops. You don't have to ride a dragon or shoot an arrow, but you do have to call this number 202-224-3121 and ask to speak with your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives and tell them that their career will be over if they vote another dime to pay for the evil depicted in Avatar."

Sunday, December 27, 2009



OCTOBER 9-12, 2010

October 9, 2010

11.00-12.00 Registration
12.00-13 00 Lunch
13.00-14.00 Welcome and Introduction
14.00-17.00 Plenary Session I: Can Humanity Survive?
- Weapons of Mass Destruction
- Climate Change and the role of Space Technologies
- Outcome of Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Committee
- StratCom, Space Domination and Global Control
- Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS)
- Climate Change,Violence and Political Control

17.00-18.00 Cultural Programme

18.00-20.00 Plenary Session II: Problems and Prospects of Nuclear Disarmament in Asia
- India, Pakistan and the NPT
- India Conflict with Pakistan (including Kashmir)
- India Conflict with China
- India-US Nuclear Deal
- South Korean and Japanese perspectives

October 10, 2010

09.00-11.00 Plenary Session III: The Danger of Missile Defence and Weaponisation of Space in Asia
- Indian Space Programme
- India and Missile Defence
- Drones in Pakistan
11.00-13.00 Plenary Session IV: Asia and Terrorism - The War In Afghanistan and the role of NATO
13.00 Lunch
15.00-17.00 Plenary Session V: Prospects of Asian Union
- Perspectives from around Asia
16.00-18.00 Adoption of Nagpur Declaration
20.00 Dinner

October 11, 2010

09.00-11.00 Global Network Annual Meeting and Strategy Discussion
11.00-12.00 Interaction with Youth Groups
12.00-14.00 Visits and presentations at Educational Institutions
14.00 Lunch
16.00-18.00 Sight seeing

October 12, 2010

Visit to Sewagram Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi spent time during the freedom struggle of India. The ashram served as the headquarters of Mahatma Gandhi for six years, from 1934 to 1940. Gandhi built the Sewagram Ashram himself, with the material that was available locally. He lived at the ashram, amidst lush green surroundings, without any facilities of electricity and telephone.

** If you have interest in attending this international space organizing conference please let us know as soon as possible so we can pre-arrange for housing, Visa's, transportation and other important tasks. This will be an exceptional life changing experience for all of us.

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Click on image for full view


Native Hawaiian Independence activists held a protest as Obama's "entourage" passed by on Dec 24. Hawaii is one of the most heavily occupied places in the world by the US military.

It's amazing how much fuel gets used by these kings and their protect them from the people.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Robert Pollin is Professor of Economics and founding Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research centers on macroeconomics, conditions for low-wage workers in the U.S. and globally, the analysis of financial markets, and the economics of building a clean-energy economy in the U.S. Most recently, he co-authored the reports “Job Opportunities for the Green Economy” (June 2008) and “Green Recovery” (September 2008), exploring the broader economic benefits of large-scale investments in a clean-energy economy in the U.S. He has worked with the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Economic Commission on Africa on policies to promote to promote decent employment expansion and poverty reduction in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. He has also worked with the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress and as a member of the Capital Formation Subcouncil of the U.S. Competiveness Policy Council.


Click on photo to enlarge

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


You might recall that I was recently in Hood River, Oregon to speak about drones which are being made there by a local company called Insitu (now bought up by Boeing Corp). I just learned that these drones made by Insitu have been sold to the Colombian military and are likely the ones that have been detected flying into Venezuelan airspace (probably as proxy for the US military).

The letters to the Hood River News have been raging on the drone issue since I spoke there. Here is a negative one below that trashes me.

Drones for America

I would like to thank Terri Hansen for her clear, unflinching appraisal of the “surrender monkeys” advocating the evisceration of our military infrastructure (Another Voice, Dec. 5).

It is clear to any compassionate human being that if the drones Insitu is building save just one American soldier’s life then there is no honorable position in opposition.

To me, Bruce Gagnon is simply a modern-day Jane Fonda. He and his followers deserve the same scorn from patriotic Americans as Fonda received when she returned from her infamous trip to Hanoi.

Cliff Mansfield
Odell, Oregon

The letter goes on much longer but I will spare you. If you wish to read the whole thing, and others from that paper, just click here


Obama made me laugh today when I read that he claimed he had never said he supported a public option.....he just preferred it....

In fact Obama had cut the deal with the big insurance corporations long before this debate ever began. The final product, more welfare for the insurance industry, was always in the cards.

Take pride in yourself if you are able to see through the Obama magician's BS...


A report from activist Ralph Lopez: "According to the UN, 35% of Afghans do not meet the daily caloric intake requirement required to avoid malnutrition. Translation, this many Afghans are pretty much starving slowly. This could help account for the average lifespan, the shortest in the world, of 43. We're talking about a speed-up in the process, which, combined with unimaginable cold at these mountain altitudes, makes people drop like flies. Especially children. It happened in Samangan in 2008, in Tulak in 2005, and many other provinces where the world's fourth-poorest people expire without note by the wider world.

"At a UN press conference this week it was revealed that it is in danger of happening again, this time in the southern and south-east provinces. Twenty percent of food aid has not reached it's target. The financial shortage amounts to about US$ 870 million, what we spend on military operations 2 weeks. This is the time we can show Afghans we are for real, and will never let another single child starve and freeze if we can help it. Congress must pass emergency legislation as fast as it passed the legislation funding bullets and bombs. Otherwise we are damned, and deserve it."

Someone might want to let the magician know about this. I'm sure that after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize he would not want it to be known that he sat back and let children starve while he waged war on them - especially at the time when the Christians celebrate the birth of the prince of peace.

Can you say genocide? Think about it....the magician and his handlers want pipelines to be constructed through Afghanistan.....but the "terrorists" are in the way....wouldn't it be easier for the oil corporations who are running this policy to just thin the population out a bit?

Starvation, white phosphorous bombs, depleted uranium or drone attacks on civilians - it's all the same thing.

The US wants to stabilize Afghanistan? It's hospitals, schools, feed the people, stop blowing them up. But the truth is that the US does not want peace, nor stability, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They want chaos in order to justify a long-term occupation. They want pipelines and they don't give a damn about the people.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009



This Guardian (UK) news report indicates the Afghan Army is not motivated to kill their fellow citizens on behalf of the US occupiers. Basically they are just using it as a job.

The reaction of the one US soldier, lecturing his Afghani counterpart about the need for a "sense of nationalism", indicates a total lack of cultural understanding.

The US is on a fools errand in Afghanistan and you are paying for it. How much longer do you want your hard earned tax dollars wasted on this mess?

Silence is complicity.......

UPDATE: Amy Goodman writes: I asked Bolivian President Evo Morales for his solution (on global warming). He recommends “all war spending be directed towards climate change, instead of spending it on troops in Iraq, in Afghanistan or the military bases in Latin America.”

Monday, December 21, 2009


The Maine Campaign to Bring
Our War $$ Home
Dec. 19, 2009

Sally Breen, Wells Staley-Mays, Tom Whitney, Suzanne Hedrick, Alan Clemence, Mark Roman, Katrina Bisheimer, Mariam Raqib, Peter Woodruff, Dan Ellis, Jacqui Deveneau, Bruce Gagnon, Hersch Sternlieb, Selma Sternlieb, Lisa Savage, Bill Slavick, Gary Higginbottom, Michael Cutting, Natasha Mayers, Karen Wainberg, and Mary Beth Sullivan

War Funding:
Both Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud just voted for the $128 billion Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan war funding which was included in the $636 billion Pentagon 2010 appropriation bill. Since the bill also contained $5.5 billion for BIW, and since the Congresspeople are committed to voting for BIW, they were in no position to vote against the bill. Talking to them about the fact that there would be more employment in civilian production falls on deaf ears. A supplemental appropriation of $30 billion more for the Obama Afghan surge will come up in the spring.

Agreement on Campaign Plan:
There was unanimous support for the three-month campaign plan (January 18-April 15) and for the action weekend on April 10-11. All local peace groups in Maine are strongly encouraged to organize local events during this period on the Afghanistan issue with particular emphasis on the cost of the wars. More information can be obtained about the cost of war spending to Maine towns at Our primary demands will be for Congresspersons Pingree and Michaud to vote against any more war funding and to become real leaders in Maine and in Washington against these endless wars.

Talking About the Costs of War:
1)It was suggested that we should always bring handouts to any meeting where we speak about the costs of war, be it a school board meeting, a town meeting, etc.

2) It was suggested that we find people who have been directly impacted by cutbacks to testify at these meetings. But we were warned that people who've lost their jobs often want to keep a low profile.

3) Some ministers have made the connection in their sermons between the increased numbers of people in the food pantries of their churches and the war. We should encourage more of this.

Kicking Off the Campaign:
Mike Brennan has offered to help us put together a news conference in Augusta at the state capital (Hall of Flags) that would make connections between state budget cuts and war funding. It will be held on Thursday, Jan. 14 (11:00-noon), the week before MLK holiday. MLK's words should be featured. The committee to work on the news conference includes Wells, Sally, Jacqui and Bruce. Bruce will contact Mike Brennan. We should all try to be at the news conference in Augusta. (Bring appropriate signs.) Lisa said she plans to urge her legislators to attend. The NAACP should also be invited to attend. We should all help contact social service groups, education groups, and public transit groups. Suzanne will talk to Commissioner of Labor Laura Fortman. Lisa suggested talking to Sue Gendron, Commissioner of Education. We should talk to our town officials about how the funding cuts are affecting their towns. Sally suggested a dramatic presentation to illustrate the issue.

Natasha has approached a number of Maine artists and poets about holding a draw-a-thon at the United Church of Christ in Bath on Feb. 13 (Feb 27 snow date). Their task will be to produce art that speaks about how the artist would spend the war money here in Maine. The artists will be open to ideas from us. In the evening (5:00 pm) there will be a poetry event and a potluck supper for the public. Bruce has asked Hana Maris to emcee the event. Zines featuring the art will be produced. Bruce offered Global Network funding if there is not enough money to pay the artists for gas to Bath. Contact Natasha for more details

At a later date, a draw-in will be held at the State House. One suggestion: The draw-in should be held when the Legislature is debating cuts in services so as to connect the dots between the war and budget cuts at home. There was discussion about hanging the art in the State House. Natasha isn't sure whether children should be included among the artists. She also talked about having the exhibit tour the state. Natasha requested volunteers to be liaisons between the artists and the media. Lisa from Code Pink Maine will work with Natasha to coordinate this event.

Campaign Sponsors:
The sponsoring groups for this campaign so far are the Maine Green Independent Party, Maine Veterans for Peace, the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine, Code Pink Maine, Waterville Area Bridges for Peace & Justice, Pax Christi Maine and PeaceWorks. Please let Bruce know if your organization would like to be added to the sponsor list. Money is not required but would be most helpful.

Town Meeting Warrant:
Gary offered to draft the wording for a warrant that can be used at town meetings. The warrant would call on a town to oppose funding the war in Afghanistan so that the town can pay for town projects. Lisa warned that the wording should be at a fifth grade level.

The Global Network will be the campaign fiscal sponsor because it has non-profit status, so all sponsoring groups can make their donations to the Global Network. Send them to PO Box 652, Brunswick 04011. Individuals are also urged to donate. Michael Cutting gave $100 at the meeting to get things going.

Dan has volunteered to create a website for the campaign. JustHost will be the host. It offers free domain for life and it's very inexpensive. We will keep it going anywhere from six months to a year. Bruce will send Dan a check to cover costs. Every sponsoring group should send its website address to Dan so he can put it on the campaign website as a link.

Door Hangers & Leaflets:
Gary put together a draft of the text for the door hangers. He asked everyone at the meeting to send him suggestions for changes. We discussed what color the campaign should be. Suggestions: Green is the color of money, but to many it's the color of tree huggers; Pink is not a good idea; Red is high alert—it could be on a stop sign; Yellow is a warning; Red, White, and Blue appeals to Americans. Natasha wants a visual on the hanger. Dan asked for a decision on the color so that the website could reflect it. The door hanger could be in the shape of a dollar bill or a dollar sign. Some suggestions for text: "There's not enough money in Maine;" "It's tax day—do you know where your money is?" "Maine's economy is under dire threat." Alan suggested that when we go door to door we wear a large label that says something like "I'm John Doe with the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War Dollars Home." Bruce will ask Nancy Randolph to design the door hanger once we've decided what we want on it. Bruce also passed around his draft of a general leaflet and asked for comments to be sent to him. If you would like either of these sent to you via email for review just send request to

Letters to the Editor:
Bruce urged us to write letters to our local newspapers and also to the free weekly papers about the war funding issue during this campaign. More people are reading the weeklies these days. Two papers that were praised were the Free Press in Rockland and the Portland Daily Sun.

Reforestation Project:
Mariam Raqib spoke to us about a project she's involved with to plant trees on 1,000 acres in eastern Afghanistan where her family comes from. She is accepting donations. For more info contact her at

Next Meeting:
We will hold a conference call for our next meeting on Sunday, Jan. 10 at 3:00 pm. Lisa will facilitate the call.


I was not in favor of Obama's health insurance bill that passed the Senate last night. I don't like the idea of being forced to have to buy a insurance policy from the big corporations if I don't want to. I have always supported a single-payer health care program. For me there is nothing better.

I've been to Cuba three times and have seen their health care system. In the perfect metaphor, Cuba's primary teaching hospital in Havana is inside what was once to be the biggest bank in Cuba where the Mafia was going to put its drug and gambling money. In our country today the Mafia is the corporate powers that are bleeding us dry.

With all that said I found a story in the Washington Post this morning that struck me. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) was the last vote to put the Dems over the top with 60 votes in favor of the bill. He has been quite ill and obviously it was not an easy task for him to get to the Senate when they have just had a snow storm dump two feet of snow on Washington.

As it turns out the Post reported: At 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon -- nine hours before the 1 a.m. vote that would effectively clinch the legislation's passage -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) went to the Senate floor to propose a prayer. "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight," he said. "That's what they ought to pray."

It was difficult to escape the conclusion that Coburn was referring to the 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) who has been in and out of hospitals and lay at home ailing. It would not be easy for Byrd to get out of bed in the wee hours with deep snow on the ground and ice on the roads -- but without his vote, Democrats wouldn't have the 60 they needed.

Sen. Byrd made it and pumped his left fist in defiance after his vote.

It's kind of a sad thing though that the Republicans have to pray that Byrd will either die or be too sick to make the vote. It's a perfect example of how the so-called Christians have taken over that party and they use god to try to cover for their very sick attitudes.

I too, for very different reasons than the Republicans, wanted to see the bill defeated. But believing in real democracy I don't need to call on god to help me "defeat" my rivals. The "good Christian Republicans" sound more and more like the Taliban every day.

My grandmother had polio and spent practically her whole life in a wheelchair. I don't find it acceptable that sleazy politicians want their rivals, especially those who are ill, to have misfortune.

I pray that some day we will have a real single-payer health care system and that the American people will soon force the government to get the insurance corporations out of health care. Health care is a human right and should not be a profit making business.

Sunday, December 20, 2009



In the Room with Ernie LaPointe from Speaking of Faith on Vimeo.

The Lakota people remember Sitting Bull who was killed on Dec 15, 1890 at the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota. Fearing that he was going to lead an exodus from the reservation the US Army tried to arrest him. Sitting Bull resisted and was shot dead at about 5:30 am as he was dragged out of his bed.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Summary: The Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) treaty resolution submitted in the UN First committee yearly since 1982 has always overwhelmingly passed. United States voted "no" twice, then has abstained 21 times, each year
from 1984-2004, when it started voting *no* again (4 times), until again abstaining in 2009.

It is quite clear that the military industrial complex does not want the successful negotiation of a new treaty to ban weapons in space. They are the source of US blockage of any progress.

2009: abstain (US & Israel)

Yes: 176, No: 0, Abstentions: 2, Non-Voting: 14, Total voting

membership: 192

2008: no (US) abstain (Israel)

Yes: 177, No: 1, Abstentions: 1, Non-Voting: 13, Total voting

membership: 192

2007: no (US) abstain (Israel)

Yes: 178, No: 1, Abstentions: 1, Non-Voting: 12, Total voting

membership: 192

2006: no (US) abstain (Israel)

Yes: 178, No: 1, Abstentions: 1, Non-Voting: 12, Total voting

membership: 192

2005: no (US & Israel)

Yes: 180, No: 2, Abstentions: 0, Non-Voting: 9, Total voting

membership: 191

2004: abstain (US, Israel, Haiti, Palau)

Yes: 178, No: 0, Abstentions: 4, Non-Voting: 9, Total voting

membership: 191

2003: abstain (US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia)

Yes: 174, No: 0, Abstentions: 4, Non-Voting: 13, Total voting

membership: 191

2002: abstain (US, Israel, Micronesia)

Yes: 159, No: 0, Abstentions: 3, Non-Voting: 29, Total voting

membership: 191

2001: abstain (US, Georgia, Israel, Micronesia)

Yes: 156, No: 0, Abstentions: 4, Non-Voting: 29, Total voting

membership: 189

2000: abstain (US, Israel, Micronesia)

Yes: 163, No: 0, Abstentions: 3, Non-Voting: 23, Total voting

membership: 189

1999: abstain (US, Israel)

Yes: 162, No: 0, Abstentions: 2, Non-Voting: 24, Total voting

membership: 188

1998: abstain (US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia)

Yes: 165, No: 0, Abstentions: 4, Non-Voting: 16, Total voting

membership: 185

1997: abstain (US)

Yes: 128, No: 0, Abstentions: 39, Non-Voting: 18, Total voting

membership: 185

1996: abstain (US)

Yes: 128, No: 0, Abstentions: 39, Non-Voting: 18, Total voting

membership: 185

1995: abstain (US)

Yes: 121, No: 0, Abstentions: 46, Non-Voting: 18, Total voting

membership: 185

1994: abstain (US)

Yes: 170, No: 0, Abstentions: 1, Non-Voting: 14, Total voting

membership: 185

1993: abstain (US)

Yes: 169, No: 0, Abstentions: 1, Non-Voting: 14, Total voting

membership: 184

1992: abstain (US, Micronesia)

Yes: 164, No: 0, Abstentions: 2, Non-Voting: 13, Total voting

membership: 179

1991: abstain (US)

Yes: 155, No: 0, Abstentions: 1, Non-Voting: 10, Total voting

membership: 166

1990: abstain (US)

Yes: 149, No: 0, Abstentions: 1, Non-Voting: 9, Total voting

membership: 159

1989: abstain (US)

Yes: 149, No: 0, Abstentions: 1, Non-Voting: 9, Total voting

membership: 159

1988: abstain (US)

Yes: 154, No: 1, Abstentions: 0, Non-Voting: 4, Total voting

membership: 159

1987: abstain (US)

Yes: 154, No: 1, Abstentions: 0, Non-Voting: 4, Total voting

membership: 159

1986: abstain (US)

Yes: 154, No: 0, Abstentions: 1, Non-Voting: 4, Total voting

membership: 159

1985: abstain (US, Grenada)

Yes: 151, No: 0, Abstentions: 2, Non-Voting: 6, Total voting

membership: 159

1984: abstain (US)

Yes: 150, No: 0, Abstentions: 1, Non-Voting: 8, Total voting

membership: 159

1983: no (US) abstain (United Kingdom)

Yes: 150, No: 0, Abstentions: 1, Non-Voting: 8, Total voting

membership: 159

1982: no (US) abstain (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Israel, Luxembourg,

Netherlands, United Kingdom)

Yes: 138 , No: 1 , Abstentions: 7 , Non-Voting: 11 , Total voting

membership: 157

Friday, December 18, 2009


* Actually I am getting a bit tired of taking on Senior Obama but it seems rather important these days. Our world is crumbling around us and this guy is working overtime to ensure that he does the opposite of everything that we truly need to wrest control of our country and planet from the hands of the corporate oligarchy.

* It's very cold here in Maine, the wind is blowing and the temperatures are hovering at the zero mark as I write this. I need to go out and bring more wood into the house for our now fully functioning wood stove. I went for a long walk in this weather yesterday and most people thought I was just a bit crazy for doing so. I keep remembering the words of our Florida friend Julie Netzer when we were moving to Maine almost seven years ago: "You wait til you get to Maine with that thin blood of yours after 30 years here in Florida. I'll give you one year, no, you are pretty stubborn, I'll give you two years and you will be back." But actually I love the cold weather.

* I taped another edition of my cable TV show the other day and noticed that December 18 is the sixth anniversary of the show we call This Issue. During this period I have had 74 guests. What a pleasure it has been. I thank all those who help produce the show: Eric Herter, Selma Sternlieb, Dan Ellis, Samantha Herter, and Bob Lezer. Without that volunteer crew it would not be happening.

* The new space war film Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space is now scheduled to soon be aired on the French public TV network, Flemish public network, in France and Germany on the ARTE network, in Finland on the national public network, Sweden on national public network and in Israel on the YES cable network. A good start I'd say. They are now lining up key film festivals in the US to premier the film here.

* Tomorrow we have the next planning meeting of our Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home here at the Addams-Melman House in Bath. I promised to make a big pot of veggie soup for everyone as many of us will be standing for an hour before the meeting in the cold in front of Bath Iron Works for the Advent disarmament vigil.

* The radio show I do each week with Peter Woodruff has been moved to Wednesday from 6-8 pm (EST) on the Bowdoin College station. You can listen to the show live on-line by clicking on this link at WBOR and then hitting the yellow Listen Now button on the top right corner. We were doing the Sunday morning shift (we called ourselves the Sunday step-children). We play political music and talk shop. Tune in if you can.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Democracy Now interviews the real leader of the global movement for peace, justice and environmental sanity.

Bolivian president Evo Morales calls for the end of capitalism because it is killing our Mother Earth. He calls on the US to end its wars abroad and instead invest the massive war funding on ways to deal with global climate change.

This man shows the world what a real leader is in comparison to the phony Barack Obama.


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Barack Obama is now finished...his presidency is dead. He has destroyed the last vestiges of support he had out in the hinterlands.....he is officially a lame duck president after less than one year in office.

And the Democrats in charge of the House and Senate are dead on arrival as well.

Time for real hope and change - bring on the revolution. Start by pulling out of the two corporate capitalist political parties. Re-register as a human being for a start. You can't do any worse than what we have now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


So far the answer is NO - the Dems will in fact expand the war(s).

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pay for wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Maine's two Democratic Party congress persons Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud voted in favor of the war money.

The $636 billion Pentagon bill includes $128 billion to pay for the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan but leaves until next spring the vote to pay for the 30,000 additional troops recently ordered to Afghanistan by Obama.

The measure passed 395-34 with almost no debate.

Those voting NO on the military budget and war funding bill were (23 Dems and 11 Repubs):

Bishop (UT)
Johnson (IL)
Lee (CA)
Lewis (GA)
Lofgren, Zoe
Nadler (NY)
Polis (CO)

It's a sad day for Maine's peace loving people. Our congress persons say they are opposed to Obama's war surge but then vote for it. Typical cynical political manipulation of voters. Most folks don't pay close enough attention and will never know how they voted.

The political hacks count on that.


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Tuesday, December 15, 2009


We began our new weekly peace vigil (every Tuesday from 5-5:30 pm) tonight here in Bath. Since I moved to Maine almost seven years ago I have vigiled in Brunswick (about 10 miles away) on Friday nights but we have not had a weekly vigil here. With Obama's surge in Afghanistan underway it was clear to me that we needed to get one going in our town of just over 9,000 people.

Five of us set up on the busiest corner in town for the 1/2 hour tonight and got about 12 honks from cars going by. One woman, stopped at the light right in front of me, had her window down a bit and I could hear the Credence Clearwater Revival anti-war song "Fortunate Son" playing and then as she drove off she flipped us her middle finger. I saw that she was also singing along with the song - talk about cognitive dissonance! Most people driving by just tried to avoid eye contact.

So we will hold this vigil in Bath every Tuesday no matter the weather....rain, snow, cold......we will be there, even if it is only a couple of us.

We all need to step it up these days. Those twelve cars that honked were moved to push on their horns and our hope is that seeing us out there week after week will move some folks to take a step beyond the current political box they reside in.

We don't need everyone, we just need enough.

RADIO UPDATE: David Swanson and I did a one-hour radio interview together today on WBAI in New York City. You can listen to the audio here


Paul Craig Roberts is an economist and a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate. He served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration earning fame as the "Father of Reaganomics". He is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps Howard News Service.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Rep. Dennis Kucinich speaking at the anti-war rally in Washington DC last Saturday

EMPIRE DISSOLUTION TRAVEL STORIES (another exciting episode)

On the train ride back to Maine after speaking in wet New Haven, Connecticut last night I noticed that water was dripping quite steadily onto me from the right and left sides of my seat. I moved to another row.

Soon after I moved the train came to a dead stop and a couple of minutes later the conductor announced that we were waiting for a boat to pass under a draw-bridge and that as soon as it passed, and the bridge went down again, we’d be on our way.

The next announcement was that the draw-bridge was stuck in the upright position and we would be further delayed…..but we were promised, maintenance teams were on the scene to fix the bridge as quickly as possible.

(We eventually got going again after about a 45 minute ‘pause‘.)

While in New Haven I was told by one gentleman, who is being forced into early retirement by wealthy Yale University as a budget cutting mechanism, that a middle school in the region is now only teaching reading and math to their students. All other subjects have been cut from the school curriculum. Is there any wonder why working class kids are quitting school before graduation in record numbers? They know that they are getting an inferior education and that they have virtually no job prospects upon graduation - with the exception of a free trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan. The return to feudalism in America is full-bore on the way.

I spoke to a peace group in New Haven that has been in conflict for the past couple of years. I didn’t know before I made the trip that the group had been in a legal battle for control of a considerable endowment they had been sitting on. My talk was their first annual meeting in several years and the small attendance was clear evidence of their struggle to reestablish themselves again.

I fashioned a talk about connecting the dots between space warfare issues, endless war for control of declining resources, climate change, the dissolution of social progress, and the great necessity for the peace movement to talk about jobs - using conversion of the military industrial complex as the key vehicle to create more jobs. After all the public wants jobs, don’t they? Why can’t we confidently proclaim that we have a much better way of dealing with the collapse of corporate capitalism? The people are anxiously waiting for someone to stand up and tell the truth about a better way……

In the 24 hours before my talk I spoke with several activists in the New Haven area who told me that many in the “progressive” movement in the city (unions, environmentalists, social justice, etc) were not particularly interested in talking about our current wars or cutting military spending. Their powerful Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat, also doesn’t want to discuss those issues with representatives of the peace community. The subject is essentially verboten.

This is one snapshot of a crumbling America in total denial about the elephant in the middle of the room. We are not supposed to talk about our wars and historic levels of military spending, especially with the Democrats now in charge. And amazingly there are some elements of the “progressive” community who go right along with the jolly minstrel show - because they don’t want to piss the Democrats off! Just stick to your single issue focus and pretend that everything else is gonna be alright.

The idea of real solidarity does not exist within significant portions of the “progressive” movement in the US. Sure we sing about it (Solidarity forever, solidarity forever, solidarity forever, our unity makes us strong) but we don’t practice it much. The Indians used to say “put your ear to the railroad tracks and hear the train coming.” Here we are in the middle of two endless wars that are chewing up scarce resources like a river full of piranha, and some declining organizations are too damn afraid to speak the truth about what is coming down all around us.

(I hear a faint voice in the back of my mind…..power corrupts, even among the powerless.)

It’s like people are frozen in time just hoping for change. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you have to make things happen - change doesn’t just take place because the oligarchy suddenly decided to “make nice”.

The missing ingredient in all of this is courage. The only way we are going to get out from behind the eight-ball is to find the will to pull ourselves out of our collective isolation and move together into purposeful action. Look at the way Latin American movements have taken power in recent years by building multi-issue coalitions that connect the dots.

We could begin by talking to everyone we come across about bringing our war money home to help deal with our crumbling nation. I tried it with one of the chimney guys that came to our house the other day and discovered his son is in Afghanistan. By the end of the conversation he was expressing real doubts about the war and its costs. I’d bet anything that few people ever ask him how he feels about the whole mad situation.

Speak up, where ever you are, and see how much better you will feel for having done it. We need your voice.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Black Caucus Finally Gets the Message: Obama’s Not ‘The One’

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Black and Progressive Caucuses will become worthy of respect when they begin voting against Obama’s Wall Street-inspired legislation.”

One can only hide from reality so long, before it catches up and bites you on the butt. The Congressional Black Caucus has been pretending that Barack Obama is the best thing to hit Washington for Black folks since the Emancipation Proclamation. It was, of course, deliriously wishful thinking, grounded in no reality whatsoever – a self-induced illusion initially shared by most African Americans and by legions of Kool-Aid drinkers on the white Left, as well.

Obama has lied about many things. But, to be fair, he never told Black people that he had any intention of tackling the kind of institutional racism that for the last 40 years has made Blacks twice as likely to be unemployed as whites. So, when the president says, as he told reporters last weekend, that he won’t lift a finger to ease Depression-level Black unemployment because “it’s a mistake to start thinking in terms of particular ethnic segments of the United States,” then no one should be surprised. This is the same guy that declared, 100 days into his presidency, that a “rising tide lifts all boats,” and Black folks should just quiet down and wait for the tide.

Unfortunately, Black lawmakers’ constituents have been swamped by the tides of joblessness and home foreclosure. They want their representatives to do something about it – to at least holler when they hurt. Last week, ten members of the Black Caucus staged a demonstration boycott of a committee vote on Obama’s pitifully weak financial regulations bill, which passed anyway.

"Since last September,” said Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters, “we have continuously voted for bailouts and reform for the very institutions that created this devastation, without properly protecting the African-American community or small business. That stops today." The Black Caucus, said Waters, “can no longer afford for our public policy to be defined by the worldview of Wall Street.”

“Obama won’t lift a finger to ease Depression-level Black unemployment.”

The statement makes great sense, although it comes rather late. The Black and Progressive Caucuses will only become worthy of respect when they begin voting against Obama’s Wall Street-inspired legislation, rather than staging boycotts when it doesn’t much matter. It will be easier to believe that the Black Caucus has wised up to Obama when they vote against funding his wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and against his horrific private insurance bailout bill that masquerades as health care reform.

Detroit Congressman John Conyers, Dean of the Black Caucus, has said the president bows down to “nutty right-wing proposals” on health care, and that he's tired of “saving Obama's can.” Several weeks ago, Conyers got a telephone call from the White House in which the president asked why Conyers was “demeaning” him in public. “Let's talk about it,” said Obama. Conyers says he's in no mood to “chat” with the president, and will put his complaints in writing.

Which is just as well. Obama has shown he is ideologically wedded to “the worldview of Wall Street,” as Congresswoman Waters put it. What the Black Caucus and all progressives will have to learn, is that if you want to fight Wall Street, you're going to have to do battle with Obama. It's way past time to put down the Kool-Aid, and start swinging.

Friday, December 11, 2009


World renowned activist and writer Arundhati Roy on the real conditions in India.

The Global Network will hold its annual space organizing conference in Nagpur, India in October of 2010.


Our wood stove in the kitchen (looks similar to this one) is not working. We've had the chimney sweep out twice to clean the chimney but we still are having a problem. We had the wood stove company inspect the stove yesterday and they said it was fine. They said the chimney has to be the problem.

So we had another guy come this morning to look at the chimney and he said our first chimney sweep had done a lousy now we will have another chimney sweep, recommended by a good friend, come this afternoon. And it is winter in Maine and damn cold outside.

So my day is being spent working on solving this very big problem. Pretty bad when you can't trust your chimney sweep to do his job right the first time!

Luckily we have a second wood stove in our community room here at the Addams-Melman House. It is roaring away just fine.

Thursday, December 10, 2009



I tuned in for the last five minutes of the magician's acceptance speech for his No peace prize in Oslo. I felt better realizing that people were outside protesting the hypocrisy of awarding the peace prize to a president who had just unleashed a surge of more UAV's and 30,000 troops in war. Mostly civilians will be killed.

In his concluding remarks drone man quoted King and Gandhi and talked about love and "just peace". He mentioned hungry mothers and young women being persecuted by their government during peaceful protests.

Deep in his heart the magician knows he did not earn this prize. He knows it is just another part of the constructed public relations campaign to hide the western world's rape and pillage of the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa for diminishing supplies of fossil fuels and rare and precious minerals - all needed to keep the capitalist industrial juggernaut grinding on for a few more years. The loss of lives are incidental to the need for control and maximum profit.

The wealthy class has exposed themselves with this No peace prize. They revealed their bankrupt vision of peace in order to provide cover for the magician's work of killing. They are in a desperate gamble of endless war and must use every available tool to cloak their war making in peace, religion, and sound morality.

I saw on TV last night that 66% of the American people do not believe that the magician has earned the peace prize. I imagine that the numbers are similar, if not greater, all over the world.

The peace prize will never carry the same luster with the public again. The shine on it has become dirty. It is now suspect as it should be. To award a peace prize to a man who is in the middle of a killing surge only darkens it beyond recognition.

There was no joy in the drone man's face as he received the prize. He knows he is a fraud and a product of illusion. He knows that his talk of peace, and the uttering of words of King and Gandhi, is blasphemy.

The crippled magician shall bring his prize home and will place it behind his desk so that photographs of him deliberating in his Oval office will constantly remind us of his uncanny ability to deceive. His slight of hand, like any magician, can woe a crowd but soon enough the public will grow tired of rabbits and long flowing scarves and coins from behind ears. These are not real replacements for jobs, health care, a clean environment, or true peace.

Eventually the people will wake up to the deeds of the magician. Today's No peace prize marks the final nail in the drone man's coffin.....and he knows it.

I almost feel sorry for the man....he has sold his soul to the devil for power and fame. But then I think of the children and old people he is now killing and my sympathy fades away.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009



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The Democrats in Congress will largely go-along with this whole war expansion....they will speak a few words of concern but in the end they will fold and vote in favor of more money for war.

Isn't it time for local activists around the country to pull out of the two war parties (even if you just become an Independent) and begin building alternative electoral challenges to these folks who are committed to endless militarism and war?

Look at this unemployment map of the US here

Click on the play button and watch the sad but amazing escalation of unemployment in this country during the past couple of years. How are we ever going to create jobs in this country when so much of our national treasury is wasted on military spending? How can we replace all those millions of jobs that have gone overseas unless we cut military spending and make serious investments back in this country?

Tell me now, which Democrats (besides Rep. Dennis Kucinich and a couple of others) are talking about seriously cutting military spending and creating real jobs in the US? I'll tell you what Democrats are doing, they are competing with each other to put more military production in their congressional districts because they know that militarism is what we are going to be doing in the future and they want to get in line for the Pentagon gravy train. It's called security export.

I refuse to be horse-whipped by these deceitful Democrats.

Kucinich has just announced that he will be "circulating two privileged resolutions which will trigger debate and votes on a timely withdrawal of U.S troops from Afghanistan and Pakistan....Yesterday, with the US Secretary of Defense at his side, the President of Afghanistan declared that his country’s security forces will need financial and training assistance from the United States for the next 15-20 years....We cannot afford these wars. We cannot afford the loss of lives. We cannot afford the cost to taxpayers. We cannot afford to fail to exercise our constitutional right to end the wars."

Let's see what members of his war party do on this many in the House will stand up to their party leadership?

Don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


The Nation magazine ran a story last month reporting that the US military is paying the Taliban in Afghanistan not to attack our supply we are funding the "enemy" not to attack us so we can fight them another day. As Rep. Dennis Kucinich says in the video, this war is a racket!

Do you want to give another huge sum of money to keep this madness alive?

If you can, please show me one mainstream media outlet that has covered this story? Why are they not covering this crucial story?

INFO UPDATE: My sister Leslie called this morning to say she found a CBS News story about the US paying the Taliban so she wants a public confession from me. So, OK the mainstream media covered the story - just a teeny bit anyway. You can see the story here

But it's not the same story Leslie! The CBS coverage is about the Pentagon offering bribes to the Taliban to switch sides in the war....this story above is about the US paying current Taliban fighters to guard military supply convoys from other Taliban fighters.....which could possibly be called a "temporary" switch of sides but it's more like they are fleecing the US. Keep looking sister.


Excerpts of an interview with journalist Chris Hedges

"We talk about (the importance of) American culture. (But in truth): American culture was destroyed after World War I, with the rise of Madison Avenue and the implanting of mass corporate culture which sought to instill new values into the American consciousness. Instead of the values of thrift, communitarianism, modesty (and) self-sacrifice, we developed, courtesy of the advertising industry, this cult of self — this deep narcissism and hedonism that disconnected us from others and gave us mass corporate culture.

"So it's not American culture that we embrace for the moment. It's not American culture we export. It's corporate culture. And I think that altered situations will force us back into a moral system that defies the dark ethic of corporatism. And hopefully reconnects us to those values within our past that I think were brought us closer to fostering the building of common good.

"Capitalism is probably ingrained in human nature. But there are different kinds of capitalism. The kind of penny capitalism that I saw at the farmer's market in the town I grew up in is not a dangerous form of capitalism ... but corporate capitalism is something else. Corporate Capitalism is cannibalizing the nation.

"Karl Polanyi in 1944 wrote a brilliant work called 'The Great Transformation' in which he talked about the inevitable totalitarianism and wars and breakdown that was caused by a system that permitted unregulated capitalists to flourish. When everything becomes a commodity, including human labor, when the natural world becomes a commodity that is valued only by its capacity to generate profit, then you commit collective suicide, because you exhaust human beings and human resources, you deplete them, until they die. And that's precisely what's happening. Look at the oil and natural gas industry, the coal industry, our permanent war economy....

"I fear more the bankruptcy of liberalism than I do the fanaticism of the right. ... I think the book for our times is probably Dostoyevsky's 'Notes from the Underground,' (1864) in which he writes about a defeated dreamer, who becomes a cynic at a time when liberalism is bankrupt and who descends into a state of moral nihilism ... which understood precisely where his country was going.

"The bankruptcy of American liberalism is that it continued to speak against war, continued to speak on behalf of the working class, continued to support constitutional rights, and yet backed the party (the Democratic party) that betrayed all of these values. This wasn't lost on the working class. The anger of the working class toward liberals in this country is not misplaced, because liberals continue with that type of hypocrisy. They continue to espouse values and yet support political parties that tear down those values. And that's very dangerous. . . .

"The progressive movements in this country rely on the working class to propel our democracy forward. (But) our working class has been decimated. It doesn't exist any more, because there are no jobs, no meaningful jobs. And so that rage and frustration which you're already seeing leaping up around the fringes of society — and of course America is a very violent nation, that undercurrent of violence runs very deep — is presaging, I fear, a backwash. But a right wing backwash. And that is largely because the liberal class in this country became gutless.

"You strive toward a dream; you live within an illusion. And societies that cannot distinguish between illusion and reality die. If you look at the twilight periods of all great empires – Roman, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian — there is, in those final moments, not only a deep moral degeneration but an inability to distinguish what is real from fantasy.

"During the election between McCain and Obama, we were waging two wars, pre-emptive wars that under post Nurmberg laws are defined as criminal wars of aggression. We were running offshore penal colonies where we openly tortured individuals stripped of all rights. We had suspended habeas corpus. We had engaged in warrant-less wiretapping and eavesdropping on tens of millions of Americans . ... And yet we spoke of ourselves as the greatest democracy on Earth – and that as the embodiment of the highest values, we had a right to deliver it to others by force."

- Chris Hedges, whose column is published on Truthdig every Monday, spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He served for eight years as the Middle East bureau chief of The New York Times, where he shared the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism, for coverage of terrorism. Hedges also received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism.