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, December 31, 2011


Our Life, Our Love and Our Struggle. . . Film by Dunguree

A quick review of the past year and the courageous struggles of Gangjeong villagers on Jeju Island, South Korea to stop the construction of Navy base.

Friday, December 30, 2011


On this day, December 30th, in 1936 -- 75 years ago today -- hundreds of workers at the General Motors factories in Flint, Michigan, took over the facilities and occupied them for 44 days.


The Kinks in studio rehearsal.....rare stuff

Uncle Son

The Kinks

He was just a workin' man,
Simple rules and simple plans,
Fancy words he didn't understand,
He loved with his heart,
He worked with his hands.

Liberals dream of equal rights,
Conservatives live in a world gone by,
Socialists preach of a promised land,
But old Uncle Son was an ordinary man.

Bless you Uncle Son,
They won't forget you when the revolution comes.

Unionists tell you when to strike,
Generals tell you when to fight,
Preachers teach you wrong from right,
They'll feed you when you're born,
And use you all your life.

Bless you Uncle Son,
They won't forget you when the revolution comes.


It's called empirical evidence. Verified by the scientific method. There is no denying it. Military spending creates fewer jobs than any other kind of spending.

Boom....that old myth that war is good for the economy has been exploded.

This interview with Robert Pollin at UMASS-Amherst Economics Department shows in clear terms that cuts in Pentagon spending will in fact lead to more jobs being creatied as the money gets moved to education, health care, public transit or other green technology development.

So we have all these politicians talking about jobs - the public is job scared - why aren't the elected officials grabbing onto this evidence and using it to show the voters that this is the way we can create more jobs?

Simple answer....most of the politicians are in the bag. They are essentially operatives for the military industrial complex. Why else would they be ignoring this evidence? Why else would they remain quiet as a church mouse when Secretary of War Panetta screams that cuts in the Pentagon budget will wreak the economy? Why would the Boston Globe, and news media across the nation, trumpet Panetta's words and ignore this truth coming from this study? Why won't our local (liberal - what does that mean anymore?) congresswoman ever talk about this study in public?

It's our job...we are the ones who have to spread this word. We are the citizen journalists....citizen leaders who have to make damn sure that the people learn about this very important information. If we don't do the job it won't get done.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Want to see why I am not big on traditional religion? Any of them. This disgusting scene in Bethlehem was best described by activist David Swanson when he said, "Christian Priests Mark Jesus' Birth at His Birthplace by Beating the S--- Out of Each Other."

Yeah these paragons of virtue, justice, non-violence and piety are some of the leading causes of global conflict.

Alot of people like to say what Jesus would do it he came back today. (I guess that is the price of fame.) I think that if Jesus came back today he likely throw most Christians out of their many expensive temples before he headed down to Wall Street to toss some tables aside.

Scripture time:

“I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Matthew 19:23-24

"And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons."
Matthew 21:12

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you."
Luke 6:27-36


My letter was finally published in our local paper yesterday. I like the headline they gave it. Nice ring it has.

Dear Editor:

Your headline “War is over” on Dec. 15 was just a tad misleading.

We’ve still got the war in Afghanistan going costing taxpayers $12 billion every month. It appears that we are getting ready to attack Syria — and maybe Iran — and President Obama recently returned from his Asia- Pacific trip where he announced a couple thousand U.S. troops will be deployed in Australia.

Why Australia? Good question.

Maybe most readers didn’t hear we are now surrounding China with U.S. military base expansion in Japan, South Korea, Guam, Australia and Aegis destroyers being deployed just off their coast. Obama also has been expanding weapons sales to Taiwan.

Pentagon spending is now well over $ 660 billion a year, but when you add in the military expenditures from “off-budget” departments like the NRO, NSA, DoE, NASA and the secret “black budget,” the true figure reaches $1 trillion a year. The U.S. spends more on the military than the rest of the world combined.

Our two senators from Maine say that China is our new enemy. China holds our enormous debt and we are their best customer. Are they likely to want a war with us? I seriously doubt it.

Here in Maine, and across the nation, we see growing efforts to destroy social progress with more cuts in health care, education and infrastructure. The 1 percent, who now control Congress, continue to reaccumulate capital while transferring jobs overseas where they can maximize their profits and shelter their taxes.

At the same time they continue to ask the 99 percent of us to sacrifice even more and have our children die on foreign lands so that the corporations can control the declining stocks of natural resources on our fragile Mother Earth.

Former President Eisenhower was right when he warned the nation to “beware of the military industrial complex” that has gained unwarranted influence in the halls of Congress.

The people are suffering as the war machine expands. It’s time for us to rattle our chains while we still can.

Bruce K. Gagnon,
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space


Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Our garden here in Maine is not quite so elaborate nor can we grow year round like they can in Southern California. We are talking about building a green house that would extend our growing season.

This excellent video shows just what can be possible if we all apply our minds and energy to the task. With the further corporatization of agriculture and the declining economic situation we all need to forget the big green fancy lawns and use the ground to grow our own food.


Over the past decade, the US military has shifted the way it fights its wars, deploying more unmanned systems in the battlefield than ever before. Today there are more than 7,000 drones and 12,000 ground robots in use by all branches of the military.

These systems mean less American deaths. They also mean less political risk for the US when it takes acts of lethal force -- often outside of official war zones.

But US lethal drone strikes in countries like Pakistan have brought up serious questions about the legal and political implications of using these systems.

Fault Lines looks at how these new weapons of choice are allowing the US to stretch the international laws of war and what it could mean when more and more autonomy is developed for these lethal machines.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Senate Top Ten

John F. Kerry - Democrat MA $231,722,794
Mark R. Warner - Democrat VA $192,730,605
Herb Kohl - Democrat WI $173,538,010
John D. Rockefeller IV - Democrat WV $99,057,011
Frank R. Lautenberg - Democrat NJ $85,572,116
Richard Blumenthal - Democrat CT $73,151,590
Dianne Feinstein - Democrat CA $69,046,622
Bob Corker - Republican TN $59,550,022
James E. Risch - Republican ID $54,088,026
Mitch McConnell - Republican KY $27,213,024

House Top Ten

Darrell Issa - Republican CA $448,125,017
Michael McCaul - Republican TX $380,411,527
Jane Harman - Democrat CA $326,844,751
Jared Polis - Democrat CO $143,218,562
Vern Buchanan - Republican FL $136,152,641
Nancy Pelosi - Democrat CA $101,123,032
Alan Grayson - Democrat FL $93,896,519
Kenny Marchant - Republican TX $49,340,275
Gary G. Miller - Republican CA $46,008,028
Rodney Frelinghuysen - Republican NJ $42,900,594

The Congress is an equal opportunity employer for multi-millionaires. It's no wonder they have no qualms about destroying social progress. They are safe and sound in their green padded cocoon.

You can see the full list here


The world’s attention is increasingly focused on Syria and Iran as the region continues to move toward military confrontation. Less noticed, however, is that the pieces are being put into place for a truly global conflict, with military buildup taking place in every region and threatening to draw in all of the world’s major powers.


I love this....and the great oracle speaks at the end.....

Monday, December 26, 2011



Mary Beth Sullivan speaking at a Global Network conference
Laurie Kirby (Woodstock, NY) and Dave Webb (Leeds, England) march through Bath, Maine calling for conversion of BIW

Moving from a War Economy to a Peace Economy

The Humanist: A Magazine of Critical Inquiry and Social Concern

By Mary Beth Sullivan

Behind every question about how to get the United States back on track and improve the lives of average Americans (the so-called 99 percent) lies the necessity for economic conversion—that is, planning, designing, and implementing a transformation from a war economy to a peace economy. Historically, this is an effort that would include a changeover from military to civilian work in industrial facilities, in laboratories, and at U.S. military bases.

To that end, I am compelled to share what I’ve learned from reading Seymour Melman, the most prolific writer on the topic.

Melman was a professor emeritus of industrial engineering at Columbia University. He joined the Columbia faculty in 1949 and, by all reports, was a popular instructor for over five decades until he retired from teaching in 2003. (He died a year later.)

Melman was also an active member of the peace movement. He was the co-chair of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE), and the creator and chair of the National Commission for Economic Conversion and Disarmament. It is reported that Melman was under surveillance by the FBI for much of his career because of his work criticizing the military-industrial complex—a sure sign that there must be something worth hearing in his work. What did he say that the power structure feared?

The economic conversion movement in past decades played a valuable role in bringing together the peace movement and union leadership to do the heady work of imaging how this country could sustain industrial jobs when, as it was envisioned, the United States would cease production of the weapons of the Cold War. It is a history that should not be forgotten.

Melman noted that U.S. industry had historically followed an established set of market rules: industry created products consumers needed or wanted, sold those products, made a profit, and then used those profits to improve production by upgrading the tools for more efficient production.

Military production for World War II began to change these rules of industry, which were later institutionalized in the 1960s when Robert McNamara was secretary of defense. McNamara, who came to the Pentagon after his tenure as an executive at Ford Motor Company, implemented some critical changes.

Within the Pentagon, civilian and uniformed officials were in conflict about the procedures for how to determine the costs of weapons to be contracted for manufacturing. On the one side, led by an industrial engineer, the idea was to base costs on the formulation of alternative designs and production methods—a competitive approach that promoted economic growth. The other side proposed generating costs based on what was previously spent. For the Pentagon, this meant following the “cost-plus” system used during World War II, also known as cost maximizing. As Melman put it in his 2001 book, After Capitalism, “contractors could take the previous cost of making a product for the Pentagon and simply add on an agreed-upon profit margin.”

McNamara opted for the second option. The result was that by 1980, the cost of producing major weapons systems had grown at an annual rate of 20 percent. Melman observed that by 1996, the cost of the B-2 bomber exceeded the value of its weight in gold.

McNamara went on to model the Pentagon after a corporate central office, defining policy, appointing chiefs of subordinate units, and maintaining accounting and management functions with huge discretion. Each military service participated in the process of acquiring material and weapons. This process resulted in tens of thousands of employees becoming hundreds of thousands, paid with U.S. tax dollars, to maximize the profits of weapons producers.

Melman minced no words in articulating the consequences in the opening of his book, Pentagon Capitalism (1970) and later in The Demilitarized Society (1989):

The operation of a permanent military economy makes the president the chief executive officer of the state management controlling the largest single block of capital resources…this combination of [economic, political, and military] powers in the same hands has been a feature of statist societies—communist, fascist, and others—where individual rights cannot constrain central rule.

…Nowhere in the constitution is top economic power conferred.
Among the many critical consequences of the state-controlled industry described by Melman in After Capitalism:

■ Firms were no longer efficiency-oriented—rather, industry produced increasingly complicated goods.
■ Production had nothing to do with meeting the needs of ordinary consumers. Melman pointed out that even though a nuclear-powered submarine is a technological masterpiece, consumers can’t eat it; can’t wear it; can’t ride in it; can’t live in it; and can’t make anything with it.
■ Labor lost control of any decision-making it had over production. With the influx of capital came an influx of white-collar middle managers, and the alienation—or disempowering—of workers.
■ Where the U.S. was once a top producer and exporter of tools needed for production of consumer goods, the complexity of military production focused industry on specialized machinery and tools that have no utility in meeting consumer needs.
■ The Pentagon consumed the talents of U.S. scientists and engineers whose skills were needed in other sectors of society.

In one of Melman’s last articles, published in the political newsletter Counterpunch in March of 2003, his frustration was palpable. He noted that New York City put out a request for a proposal to spend between $3 and $4 billion to replace subway cars. Not a single U.S. company bid on the proposal—in part because the nation no longer had the tools it needed to build its subway trains. In the article, titled “In the Grip of a Permanent War Economy,” Melman calculated that if this manufacturing work were done in the United States, it would have generated, directly and indirectly, about 32,000 jobs. “The production facilities and labor force that could deliver six new subway cars each week could produce 300 cars per year, and thereby provide new replacement cars for the New York subway system in a twenty-year cycle,” Melman wrote, noting that such an endeavor would depend on well-trained engineers but that “it is almost twenty-five years since the last book was published in the United States on [urban public transportation].”

Percolating within the economic conversion movement that began some four decades ago was a vision to reduce the economic decision-making power of the wartime institutions. The plan was to set up a highly decentralized process, based on “alternative-use committees,” to implement the changeover from military to civilian work in factories, laboratories, and military bases. Half of each alternative-use committee would be named by management; the other half by the working people. There would be support of incomes during a changeover.

Nationally, a commission chaired by the secretary of commerce would publish a manual on local alternative-use planning. It would also encourage federal, state, and local governments to make capital investment plans, creating new markets for the capital goods required for infrastructure repair.

Three principal functions would be served by economic conversion: First, the planning stage would offer assurance to the working people of the war economy that they could have an economic future in a society where war-making was a diminished institution. Second, reversing the process of economic decay in the U.S. economy, particularly in manufacturing, the national commission would be empowered to facilitate planning for capital investments in all aspects of infrastructure by governments of cities, counties, states, and the federal government, which would comprise a massive program of new jobs and new markets. (Melman frequently referred to the annual “report card” published by the American Society of Civil Engineers to highlight the declining U.S. infrastructure—deteriorating roads, bridges, schools, and so on—a situation that continues to worsen.) And third, the national network of alternative-use committees would constitute a gain in decision-making power by all the working people involved.

Melman worked with students, union leaders, the peace movement, and with Congress to create momentum around these ideas. There were some key events along the way.

In 1971, George McGovern included the idea of economic conversion when he announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. His statement included this position:

Basing our defense budget on actual needs rather than imaginary fears would lead to savings. Needless war and military waste contribute to the economic crisis not only through inflation, but by the dissipation of labor and resources and in non-productive enterprise…

For too long the taxes of our citizens and revenues desperately needed by our cities and states have been drawn into Washington and wasted on senseless war and unnecessary military gadgets… A major test of the 1970s is the conversion of our economy from the excesses of war to the works of peace. I urgently call for conversion planning to utilize the talent and resources surplus to our military… for modernizing our industrial plants and meeting other peacetime needs.

In 1976, SANE held a conference in New York City titled “The Arms Race and the Economic Crisis.” Melman was a featured speaker. This conference was instrumental in winning an economic conversion plank in the Democratic Party platform that year. A decade later, in 1988 and ’89, Melman had several meetings with then Speaker of the House, Rep. Jim Wright (D-TX). Wright convened a meeting of certain members of Congress who were committed to supporting the economic conversion bill proposed by Rep. Ted Weiss (D-NY). Speaker Wright told Melman that, in his opinion, the arms race had taken on dangerous but also economically damaging characteristics and that military spending “sapped the strength of the whole society.”

On the first day of the opening of the 101st Congress, Speaker Wright convened a meeting of members who had proposed economic conversion legislation, along with their aids. The purpose was to ensure that all proposals be joined into one, and that this legislation be given priority. To dramatize the importance of this bill, it would be given number H.R. 101.

Melman and SANE were elated. And then reality hit. As Melman reported: “Supporters of such an initiative did not reckon with the enormous power of those opposed to any such move toward economic conversion. In the weeks that followed, these vested interests waged a concerted and aggressive campaign in Congress and the national media to bring down Jim Wright over allegations of financial misconduct.”

The allegations had little substance, but Newt Gingrich, representing a headquarters district of Lockheed Martin, led the Republican attack. Sadly, they won. According to Melman, “Their media campaign drowned out any further discussion of economic conversion… A historic opportunity had been destroyed.”

Even so, economic conversion plans were being developed in California and beyond. A 1990 Los Angeles Times article reported that

Irvine, California Mayor Larry Agran planned to make his home town a national model for economic conversion by using what all presumed would be “under-worked” defense companies to build a major monorail project. He envisioned a major local mass-transportation industry. His proposed Irvine Institute for Entrepreneurial Development would also look for ways to push local rocket scientists toward environmental cleanup, healthcare, and other such enterprises.

In Los Angeles, Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, with the support of the International Assn. of Machinists, convened a committee to study prospects for converting aerospace jobs to establishing an electric car-manufacturing industry. They argued that there were linkages in technologies and skills across industries.

On the state level, California Assemblyman Sam Farr promoted a package of bills that required the governor to 1) convene an “economic summit” on conversion, 2) appoint a council to study the issue, and 3) come up with a means of facilitating the transfer of military technology to the civilian sector.

At the federal level, Senator Weiss continued to push economic conversion legislation until his death in 1992. (To my knowledge, no other member of Congress has taken on this issue.) But George H.W. Bush’s attack on Iraq in the 1990 Persian Gulf War was a critical nail in the coffin of the national economic conversion movement.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some in the peace movement who have continued to keep the embers of economic conversion alive. In Groton, Connecticut, for example, the local peace community organized a “listening project” to engage the community about what economic conversion might look like for General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Company, builder of submarines for the U.S. Navy. For more than thirty years, the Peace Economy Project in St. Louis has been advocating for conversion from a military to a more stable peace-based local economy. The Woodstock, New York, peace community held a conference in 2009 focused on the conversion of Ametek/Rotron, a local manufacturer that makes parts used in F-16 fighter planes, Apache attack helicopters, tanks, and missile delivery systems. Certainly there are others out there engaging their home communities in envisioning alternatives to continued production for endless war.

My partner, Bruce Gagnon, is the coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space and has been organizing around conversion since the 1980s. His typical question to any audience is: “What is the United States’ number one industrial export?” Audiences across the country shout out “weapons.” He then asks them to consider that if weapons are the number one industrial export, what is the global marketing strategy? “Endless war” becomes the refrain.

In 2003 Bruce and I moved to Maine, in part to be near Bath Iron Works (BIW), the General Dynamics-owned production facility for naval destroyers that are deployed with Aegis weapons systems. These Aegis destroyers are part of the “Star Wars” or missile defense vision; they rely on space satellites when launched toward their targets. Bruce and I joined the vigils organized by peace groups in Bath, and Bruce organized some vigils for the Global Network. We would hold signs critical of the purpose of the Aegis destroyer (after all, it’s not about defense but destruction) and would offer an alternative vision for the factory (build wind turbines, not destroyers). Initially, people laughed, scoffed, scorned, and some spewed hateful things at us.

In 2007 we bought a big house in Bath with a friend, tore down a wall to create a community room, and began hosting conversations about the idea of economic conversion. We interviewed people who had lived in the community for some time. We interviewed workers at BIW, including Peter Woodruff, who joined our conversion study group early on. Broken-hearted by the role of the Aegis destroyers in the shock and awe campaign on Iraq, he has been a brave and creative organizer inside the shipyard.

As BIW copes with episodic layoffs and a diminishing need for U.S. warships, fewer people scoff at our signs and message. Envisioning a future for BIW in a peace economy is an essential asset to the community.

Meanwhile, there is momentum in Maine to generate wind power options. A professor at the University of Maine is experimenting with composite materials to create a prototype for an offshore wind turbine, and a former governor has created a private company to position wind turbines throughout the state.

As a friend who was an employee at BIW many years ago points out, BIW did convert years ago—from making commercial ships to naval destroyers. Can it experience another conversion now, making wind turbines and other renewable energy products? What if BIW converted to making hospital ships?

The idea of transforming the U.S. military to a humanitarian relief organization is not unheard of; Maine author Kate Braestrup spoke at the state’s Veterans for Peace PTSD conference this year and told the story of her Marine son who has experienced a number of deployments focused on disaster relief. She asked him how he could do humanitarian relief using former instruments of war. He told her it took some creativity, but they were able to transform their equipment to rebuild infrastructure. Braestrup then asked this question: given that devastating extreme weather events will continue to occur, why don’t we build hospital ships at BIW to meet the need for disaster relief—and if we need to adapt the material to fight wars, then certainly we can figure out how to do that, right?

It behooves the peace movement to create a vision that the populace can get excited about—a vision that will capture people’s imagination. A vision that sees the skills and talents of our engineers and scientists creating the renewable energy infrastructure critical to surviving the twenty-first century; a vision that engages peace activists, environmentalists, labor, students, artists, and food security folks in creating plans for how we will warm, feed, and transport people in the year 2040. This is the true security need for the United States, and the world.

Economic conversion is an idea whose time has come. As evidence, I submit that we have an ally in none other than Deepak Chopra, the preeminent leader in the field of mind-body medicine. Few people know that, after the 2008 election, Dr. Chopra sent a public letter to Barack Obama that he called “Nine Steps to Peace for Obama in the New Year.” Asserting that it was an anti-war constituency that elected Obama, Dr. Chopra invoked the spirit of Dwight D. Eisenhower in insisting Obama move from an economy dependent on war-making to a peace-based economy. Dr. Chopra’s recommendations included writing into every defense contract a requirement for a peacetime project; subsidizing conversion of military companies to peaceful uses with tax incentives and direct funding; converting military bases to housing for the poor; phasing out all foreign military bases; and calling a moratorium on future weapons technologies.

The vision is clear, it is obvious, it is mainstream. An important next step for us is to determine what we can do in our home communities to empower local unions and workers, environmentalists, healthcare workers, social workers, secular and spiritual leaders alike, and the neighbors next door to engage—to look around, determine the needs, create the collaborations, and wrestle the funds away to start building a survivable future.

- Mary Beth Sullivan lives in Bath, Maine, near the General Dynamics-owned Bath Iron Works, where naval destroyers, fitted with Aegis weapons systems, continue to be built. She is a social worker who attempts to serve the needs of a growing homeless population in a time of diminishing resources. She is also active with the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.


The war never ends for those who return home from Iraq or Afghanistan.

Talk of them being heroes is not in sync with their own experience.

Yes, let's remember the vets but let's also bring them all home now and give them real support once they get here. Not just the usual rah-rah cheers and then abandon them to the lonely streets of the nation.

See more on this story here

Sunday, December 25, 2011


The Gangjeong villagers on Jeju Island, South Korea had a very short Christmas break from their important fight to halt the Navy base construction.

On December 26 (Korean time) 29 villagers and supporters were arrested for sitting in the road and blocking construction vehicles. They were taken to jail. (The number grew from 15 to 29 after a number of Catholic priests sat in front of the gate as well and were also arrested.) Those still in jail have begun a hunger strike.

Please remember that a boycott of Samsung products has begun. Samsung is the lead construction contractor for the Navy base project. Please be sure to avoid Samsung products and tell others about this boycott.

The Navy base will be a key port for U.S. Aegis destroyers, outfitted with so-called missile defense systems, and will be used to help surround China. The U.S. is now in the process of dramatically increasing its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

These Aegis destroyers are built at Bath Iron Works here in Maine.

The Gangjeong village is a 400 year old farming and fishing community. Just off the coast are soft-coral reefs that will be destroyed by dredging to make it possible to bring the huge warships into the port. Already villagers have found that the contamination of the air from blasting and heavy construction equipment has negatively impacted their popular tangerine products - the fruit has been dropping from the trees with a never before seen growth on them.

You can daily follow the Gangjeong villagers struggle on Facebook at this link

Saturday, December 24, 2011



Here is my Christmas wish list......

  • I want the birds to live. I love birds.

  • I want this climate change to stop. Our weather in Maine is weird and getting weirder by the day. I've noticed neighbors planting banana trees and pineapple.

  • I want the public to turn off their TV's and hit the streets. Imagine how fun that would be.

  • I want the wars to stop - all of them.

  • I want to have a rail system that could take me anywhere I wanted to go. Each rail car with Wifi connection.

  • I want my local newspaper to be a newspaper again.....and print my latest Letter to Editor.

  • I want our Teabag governor in Maine to move to Jamaica.

  • I want there to be free health, dental, and mental health care for everyone. Pay for it with cuts in Pentagon spending.

  • I want Bath Iron Works to build rail cars and wind turbines which would mean they would have to hire more people.

  • I want the politicians to stop viewing their job as a career. Get elected, be real, and be done after one term. It's called citizen representative.

  • I want the children of the world to have a future.

  • I want to be able to watch baseball, basketball, and news channels on TV without having to pay $75 a month. I refuse to pay it.

  • I want the U.S. to close all our bases overseas. I want to Bring Our War $$ Home.

  • I want The Kinks to get back together - at least for one album. I would like for them to invite me to watch them make the record. Maybe let me sing backup and shake a tambourine too.

  • I want my son to not have to work so hard.

  • I want everyone to be happy. Can't we all just get along?

  • I want cars/trucks to vanish from the face of the Earth. I could live with motor scooters.

  • I want my feet to stop hurting after I walk a long distance. I love to walk.

  • I want the militarization of space to stop.

  • I want the aliens to come and tell us the whole story - who God is, how it all started, what happens when you die, and is it true that only the rich go to hell.

  • I want a new dog, preferably a Beagle, but for free and already house trained.

  • I want someone to come and take the things away from our house that collect dust. I am tired of stuff.

  • That should do it.....I don't want to be greedy.

Friday, December 23, 2011


The Episcopal Church in New York City turned Occupy down when they requested the use of a vacant lot for their camp....retired Bishop gets dissed by his church as they reject his plea for them to open their hearts to Occupy.....coming at the same time of Christ's birthday where they will sing songs and reenact the birth in the lonely manger.

Seems the church misses the irony.

I think the song goes something like this - Away in the manger no crib for a bed...The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head.

The institutional church has largely become the pawn of the oligarchy. Jesus would shudder if he could see what is done (or not done) in his name these days.....


This syndicated cartoon appeared in newspapers across the county
The Christmas spirit has lately been dampened by the bickering between the two corporate parties in Washington. They've been playing good cop - bad cop again. When they start doing that you'd better watch both of their slimy little hands.

The Repubs and Dems have been going at each other about a two month payroll tax cut. For those who don't pay attention "payroll tax" is the money that goes into the Social Security Trust Fund. The normal rate is 6.2% but it has been trimmed down to 4.2% and the Democrats have a goal of reducing it to 3.1%. Their reasoning is to give the funds back to the taxpayer as an economic stimulus.

A very popular idea - everybody likes tax cuts.........

The Repubs in the House said they would not support just a two month tax cut. They want to make it at least for a year or even permanent. Back and forth they guess what?

This morning we learn that the Repubs have agreed to the two month cut. To seal the deal, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) promised Thursday that he would appoint a conference committee to take up negotiations after New Year’s Day on ways to pay for a full-year tax cut.

In the end they all will agree on a long-term cut. What is the result? They reduce the amount of funds going into Social Security at the very same time that many private worker pension plans have been devastated due to the gambling going on at the stock market.

But don't worry both parties in Washington tell the people. The money that is reduced from Social Security will be replaced with funds from the general revenue to ensure that the retirement trust fund remains solvent. OK, that sounds nice....but I thought the general revenue funds were running in the negative....we are already borrowing from China to supplement the general revenue fund deficit.

It's a shell game.

"Social Security was not established to be a source of 'temporary' stimulus funds. The idea that its payroll tax rate should be moved up and down with economic events is highly dangerous to the program's financial future," Chuck Blahous, a public trustee for Social Security and Medicare, said in a statement.

Blahous and others argue that the more Social Security is seen as a program that must rely on general tax revenue, the less it will be viewed as a self-financed program that pays out earned benefits.

"Social Security will gradually be turned into something more akin to welfare, for which the funding is provided not solely by ... workers but also by a subsidy funded by those subject to income tax," Blahous said.

In other words Social Security would be turned into just another discretionary program. A fund that can be cut or even shut down depending on the whims of Congress and the White House.

In an even more cynical gesture the agreement will extend unemployment insurance for two more months - a move likely to have been made as a way to buy union support for the stealth attack on Social Security.

Watch out for gifts from Scrooge at Xmas've got to keep a close eye on both of his money grubbing hands.


Xmas on Jeju Island

Thursday, December 22, 2011


The Kinks

I think I'm sophisticated
'Cos I'm living my life like a good homosapien
But all around me everybody's multiplying
Till they're walking round like flies man
So I'm no better than the animals sitting in their cages
in the zoo man
'Cos compared to the flowers and the birds and the trees
I am an ape man

I think I'm so educated and I'm so civilized
'Cos I'm a strict vegetarian
But with the over-population and inflation and starvation
And the crazy politicians
I don't feel safe in this world no more
I don't want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore and make like an ape man

I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man
I'm an ape man I'm a King Kong man I'm a voo doo man
I'm an ape man
'Cos compared to the sun that sits in the sky
compared to the clouds as they roll by
Compared to the bugs and the spiders and flies
I am an ape man

In man's evolution he has created the cities and
the motor traffic rumble, but give me half a chance
and I'd be taking off my clothes and living in the jungle
'Cos the only time that I feel at ease
Is swinging up and down in a coconut tree
Oh what a life of luxury to be like an ape man

I'm an ape, I'm an ape ape man, I'm an ape man
I'm a King Kong man, I'm a voo-doo man
I'm an ape man
I look out my window, but I can't see the sky
'Cos the air pollution is fogging up my eyes
I want to get out of this city alive
And make like an ape man

Come and love me, be my ape man girl
And we will be so happy in my ape man world
I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man, I'm an ape man
I'm a King Kong man, I'm a voo-doo man
I'm an ape man
I'll be your Tarzan, you'll be my Jane
I'll keep you warm and you'll keep me sane
and we'll sit in the trees and eat bananas all day
Just like an ape man
I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man, I'm an ape man
I'm a King Kong man, I'm a voo-doo man
I'm an ape man.
I don't feel safe in this world no more
I don't want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an ape man.


The spirit of protest and real democracy is indeed spreading globally. It's unstoppable now and with each small thing we do we help spread this wave of hope and action.


  • Years ago while living in Florida I organized several trips to Cuba so activists and church people could taste the forbidden fruit. On one of the trips we visited a Cuban cigar factory and learned the remarkable story about how the workers would read to one another while they worked. Newspapers, novels, and the like were read all day long as the cigars were wrapped and when the Cuban revolution happened the workers in the cigar factory were some of the most active because they also were some of the most educated workers in the country. Last night I was speaking with a worker from Bath Iron Works and he told me how he regularly tacks articles (and sometimes my blog posts) on a bulletin board where a couple hundred workers daily stop to read the things he places there. Sometimes they are articles about the Jeju Island Navy base fight, reports on the Occupy movement and the growing economic divide in the country, stories about the growing suicides among active duty GI's, or the recent reports about the government throwing hundreds of dead soldiers body parts into garbage dumps. My friend said he is trying to help his fellow workers recover from watching Fox News.

  • While the U.S. war in Iraq is supposedly over new reports indicate that Secretary of War Leon Panetta plans to continue flying Predator surveillance drones over the war ravaged nation. The unmanned airplanes will operate out of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. Panetta also told Fox News that 40,000 U.S. troops will remain based throughout the Gulf region just in case they are needed. Panetta stated that the CIA drone flights over Iran will also continue. You might wonder if it is illegal and provocative for the U.S. to be sending military flights over Iranian air space? It's obvious that the U.S. and British military are doing economic sabotage missions inside Iran. This is how the U.S. got into the Vietnam war - first sending the CIA into Vietnam to blow up public transport and other infrastructure targets. Step by step it led to a full blown escalation and ultimately a very long and disastrous war.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


We know that the US is already in a covert war with Iran. Key scientists involved in Iran's nuclear program have been assassinated and several Iranian government buildings have been blown up by US/Israeli operatives.

Now Iran, says a new Univision documentary, is being aided by Venezuela and Cuba. According to this right-wing documentary, the three countries are meeting in Mexico to plot terrorist attacks in the US. Is the Iranian threat real? Eva Golinger, lawyer and author, joins RT to analyze this question.

It's a replay of Ronald Reagan's hype that the communists from Nicaragua where going to attack the US by sweeping north into Texas back in the mid-to-late 1980's. He used this story line to justify the US support for the Contra war against Nicaragua that ultimately targeted and killed legions of innocent civilians.

The US corporate war machine has Iran surrounded and they are anxious to take out their leadership and grab their fossil fuel resources. So far they have been rolling the dice of war (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya) and getting away with it. Their thinking is - who is going to stop us?

These arrogant, dishonest, greedy, and sick bastards must be stopped before they turn this into a WW III. The people of the world need to reject following the US and NATO into another of these bloody blunders.

How many times can the oligarchy keep running this same story line out to justify war? The answer is as long as people keep buying it or at the very least remain silent.


It's a utopian fantasy - discover a ghost town and rebuild it in line with your ideals - but in Spain where there are nearly 3,000 abandoned villages (most dating back to the Middle Ages), some big dreamers have spent the past 3 decades doing just that.


Happy holidays to you.

This time of year means family to me - a time to remember all those in my extended family who do so much to make the world a better place.

It's not easy sledding out there but we keep pushing the rock up the hill.

A local minister friend asked me the other day why I don't just sit back and let it all crash and see what God has next in store for us.

I told him I am stubborn and that I can't turn my head away from it all.

I learned some years ago, thanks to Quaker friend Al Geiger who lives in Jacksonville, Florida, that we can't be attached to results. He helped me understand that we just have to be faithful to the path, do our level best, and from there things are ultimately beyond our control. Al is one of those I dearly miss from my years in Florida.

So for me that means acceptance of my limitations and just giving it all I can without losing my sense of awe and love for the great mystery of life.

The greatest gift I could get this holiday season is knowing that many of you all over the world are doing your best as well to bring sanity and justice to our world. I join hands with you as we keep pushing toward the new year. Know that as long as I am breathing I will be there with you on the ramparts even if I have to crawl.

As we come near to the end of the year I want to take a moment and remember all those we love who have passed on before us......they will always live in our hearts.

Thanks for stopping by the blog.......I send you my best wishes for love and peace.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I've been reading various websites this morning and stopped by one Maine Democratic party blog that I regularly check on. A woman had posted an article wondering why their party was lacking in energy and not attracting younger folks.

She went on to describe better times and said, "Back in 2004, the Democratic Party was full of energy. We were at the end of George W. Bush’s first term. We had had enough. I joined MOB – Mothers Against Bush. I went to rallies. And let it be noted: this is WAY out of my comfort zone. I’m not usually one to be public about my beliefs. But I did what I could. I rallied around John Kerry."

I find this quote fascinating because she reveals several important things. First the name of the group "Mothers Against Bush" confirms what I've felt for a long time and that is many "party" people don't necessarily engage in protest movements because they are upset about a war or some particular issue. Quite often they join "rallies" because the events are really to smash one particular candidate (in this case Bush) or support another candidate (a Democrat).

Sometimes they do, for example, "join" peace groups but primarily because they believe it will help to build support for the slate of Democrats running in an upcoming election.

Then after an election is over these party people fold up their "activist" banners and go home to wait for the next election cycle. In their minds they see themselves as part of the larger "movements" but in truth their energy, money, and hearts are closely reserved for their party.

In the comments following this woman's piece a good number of folks wrote in trying to help offer suggestions on how to revive the flagging Democrats in Maine. One man wrote in part, "We also need to step back and realize how much President Obama and the Congressional Democrats have accomplished — passing national health care, ending both the wars, saving the economy from the forces of evil in the financial sector."

Reading this made me angry. This is what I'd call intellectual bankruptcy. Claiming that Obama had ended both wars and saved the economy from Wall Street! Outrageous. I immediately wrote a response that said:

Ending both wars? What planet are you living on? We are still mired in Afghanistan at the cost of $12 billion per month. You want to know why progressives are abandoning the Dems like rats off a sinking ship? It’s remarks like this that Obama has ended both wars. Dems are blinded by party loyalty and can’t be critical of their own corporate dominated war party. Very sad.

I see this with loyal Democrats all the time. They find it virtually impossible to face the reality of what their president and party stand for and are doing. They turn their heads when they see such actions like expanding the war from Afghanistan into Pakistan and miraculously convince themselves that Obama has in fact ended "both wars". Or they blame the non-closure of Guantanamo detention center on the Republicans.....on it goes.

One email I got today was in a series of emails discussing the Obama fiasco. A woman wrote, "Obama is now so discredited in the eyes of many fine progressives who believed he would make a dent (including me, duh!).... For sure, let's build an alternative party and take the fine progressives to the left of the democratic party with us: they are looking for alternatives!!!"

I'd sure hate to be a Democrat today trying to "rebuild" the energy for that party. The public ain't buying it and neither are the real honest hard working grassroots activists who are the bedrock of most movements - particularly the Occupy movement. They get it and won't be fooled again.

Sadly I think Obama will be reelected but it won't be because most voters buy his worn-out line anymore. Polls are showing that most of the public has little confidence in either party and are not happy with the declared candidates in either of the two corporate controlled political parties.

Obama is likely to win because many will hold their nose and vote for the "lesser" of the devils. Holding your nose though does not create energy and passion for a party. It just helps to hold off the smell from the rotting corpse.

We must continue to build the alternative vision, the non-corporate vision of what a world could look like without endless war, greed, materialism, and environmental destruction. Only when we do that can we reach the day where real democracy can flourish.


We have no other option than to keep pressing on until the oligarchy gives way to true liberty, justice, peace, and economic equality in the U.S. and around the world.

We can't be discouraged (for long) nor can we afford to throw in the towel. It's the future generations and the many plant and animal species on our Mother Earth we are fighting for - all our relations.

Let this coming new year be a time of recommitment for each of us. Let us remember that the #1 job of a human being is to ensure that those coming after us have a chance for survival on this beautiful spinning orb.

Let's also remember we are not alone. This noble struggle for planetary dignity is happening in every country and on every continent. Connected we are a mighty force. Let's keep it rolling. Each of us can do even one small thing each day to help this cause. Reach out and feel connected to this historic energy.

Monday, December 19, 2011


  • It's cold here, last night dipping down to about 6 degrees. Just a touch of snow on the ground. Weather reports predict 46 degrees by Thursday as we continue the up and down cycle that is not normal for this time of year in Maine. It's the kind of weather fluctuations that make people sick as our bodies can't adjust to the back and forth.

  • I will attend my City Council meeting tonight as they will be once again debating the merits of the new so-called 'Smart Meter' wireless devices amid concerns about their impact on residents' health, privacy and power bills. So far my city council has declared a 6-month moratorium on their installation by a slim 5-4 margin. There will be an effort to overturn that decision this evening. I am still learning about the issue but tend to feel like we need to slow down the runaway train and stop the corporate arm-twisting that is pushing these things.

  • The Russian Phobos-Grunt space probe, launched on November 9 to go to a moon of Mars, had its rocket system fail to fire it into deep space from low Earth orbit. Phobos-Grunt is expected to fall to Earth between January 6-19. It's been confirmed that “one of the craft’s instruments” contains 22 pounds of Cobalt-57. The Russian space agency expects that “between 20 and 30 fragments of the probe with a total weight of up to…440 pounds will survive the fiery plunge and shower the Earth’s surface.” Journalist Karl Grossman (one of the founders of the Global Network) reports that while Cobalt-57 isn’t plutonium, considered the most deadly radioactive substance, it still can be harmful. He quotes Argonne National Laboratory’s Human Health Fact Sheet that Cobalt-57 has a half-life of 270 days, “long enough to warrant concern.” (The hazardous lifetime of a radioactive material is 10 to 20 times its half-life.) The document notes that Cobalt-57 can cause cancer. It “can be taken into the body by eating food, drinking water, or breathing.” It's no wonder we all are so wary of technology and the constant claims that everything is safe. Don't worry - be happy! Ugh......

  • I've begun working on the next Global Network newsletter. It will be a special 20th anniversary edition as the organization was founded in 1992. One of our board members, Holly Gwinn Graham from Olympia, Washington, recently sent me photos from many past GN events that I had never seen. It will be fun to weave them into the newsletter.

  • I watched CBS-TV news show 60 Minutes last night and they did a segment on the large numbers of foreclosed and vacant homes in Cleveland, Ohio. The banks don't want them, and don't want to pay for their upkeep since they are not selling, so the city has been left holding the bag. They are bulldozing the homes left and right as the numbers of homeless people multiply like a bunch of rabbits. Wouldn't it make more sense to change the mortgages and let people pay something so they can stay in their homes? This unforgiving capitalism has got to go. It's as outdated and cruel as feudalism.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


What about soccer?


In the place where our old home was destroyed,
We bury the charred bones of our relatives,
Now the white flowers are blooming there.
Oh, we must never allow, we must absolutely forbid another Atom Bomb to fall.

Deadly rain gathers poison from the sky,
And the fish gather death from the depths of the sea,
Fishing boats are idle, their owners are blind,
Deadly harvest, of two Atom boms,
And landsmen and seamen you must watch and take care,
That the third Atom bomb never falls.

They got sisters and brothers
Fighting 'gainst one another
They got dreams and schemes and build war machines
And try to out-do each other
We got children that are starving
But that don't bother them
They're much to busy getin' rich
To worry about our little children

Save me Jesus!
Save me Jesus!
Save me Jesus!
Jesus save me
From this god forsaken place

They got satellites and space ships
Flying 'cross the universe
They killed before
And they'll kill again
Just so they can say they're first
They build monuments and churches
And things I aint seen yet
And they've signed a law with their autographs
In case you might forget

Save me Jesus!
Save me Jesus!
Save me Jesus!
Jesus save me
From this god forsaken place

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Almost Gone (The Ballad Of Bradley Manning )

Written by Graham Nash and James Raymond

Locked up in a white room, underneath a glaring light
Every 5 minutes, they’re asking me if I’m alright
Locked up in a white room naked as the day I was born
24 bright light, 24 all alone

What I did was show some truth to the working man
What I did was blow the whistle and the games began

Tell the truth and it will set you free
That’s what they taught me as a child
But I can’t be silent after all I’ve seen and done
24 bright light I’m almost gone, almost gone

Locked up in a white room, dying to communicate
Trying to hang in there underneath a crushing wait
Locked up in a white room I’m always facing time
24 bright light, 24 down the line

What I did was show some truth to the working man
What I did was blow the whistle and the games began

But I did my duty to my country first
That’s what they taught me as a man
But I can’t be silent after all I’ve seen and done
24 bright light I’m almost gone, almost gone
(Treat me like a human, Treat me like a man )

The song release is timed to Manning's first judicial hearing scheduled for December 16th, following more than 17-months in custody, including a year in solitary confinement that Amnesty International has characterized as "harsh and punitive."


December 18, 2007

To: Mr. Randy Waddle, Assistant Inspector General, Ft Carson, Colorado

CC: LTC John Shawkins, Inspector General, Ft Carson, Colorado
Major General Mark Graham, Commanding Officer, Ft Carson, Colorado
Major Haytham Faraj, USMC, Camp Pendleton, California
Lt General Stanley Greene, US Army Inspector General
Subject: Formal Notification of War Atrocities and Crimes Committed by Personnel, B Company, 2-12, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division in Iraq

Dear Mr. Waddle,

My name is John Needham. I am a member of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry division, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, (BCo,2-12INF,2BCT,2ID . I deployed with my unit to Iraq from October 2006 until October 2007 when I was medically evacuated for physical and mental injuries that I suffered during my deployment. The purpose of my letter is to report what I believe to be war crimes and violation of the laws of armed conflict that I personally witnesses while deployed in Iraq.

Upon arriving in Iraq in October of 2006 my unit was assigned to the ¼ Cavalry unit at Camp Prosperity. In March of 2007 I was sent back to my unit, B Company 2-12 at Camp Falcon. It was at Camp Falcon that I observed and was forced to participate in ugly and inhumane acts against the Iraqi citizens in our area of responsibilities. Below I list some of the incidents that took place.

In March of 2007, I witnessed SSG Platt shoot and wound an Iraqi national without cause of provocation. The Staff Sergeant said that he suspected the Iraqi be a “trigger” man. We had not been attacked and we found no evidence on the man to support the suspicion. As the Iraqi lay bleeding on the ground, PVT Smith requested to administer first aid to the Iraqi. SSgt Platt said no and “let him bleed out.” When SSG Platt walked away, Pvt Smith and PVT Mullins went to the Iraqi, dragged him to an alley, and applied first aid. They then drove him to the cache for further treatment.

In June of 2007 1SG Spry caused an Iraqi male to be stopped, questioned, detained, and killed. We had no evidence that the Iraqi was an insurgent or terrorist. In any event when we stopped he did not pose a threat. Although I did not personally witness the killing, I did observe 1sg Spry dismembering the body and parading of it while it was tied to the hood of a Humvee around the Muhalla neighborhood while the interpreter blared out warnings in Arabic over the loud speaker. I have a photo that shows 1SG Spry removing the victim’s brains.

On another occasion an Iraqi male was stopped by a team led by Sgt Rogers as he walked down an alleyway. The Iraqi was detained and questioned then with his hands tied behind his back, SGT Rogers skinned his face.

1ST Spry shot a young Iraqi teenager who was about 16 years old. The shooting was unprovoked and the Iraqi posed no threat to the unit. He was merely riding his bicycle past an ambush site. When I arrived on the scene I observed 1SGT Spry along with SSG Platt dismember the boy’s body.

In August of 2007, I responded to radio call from SGT Rogers reporting that he had just shot an Iraqi who was trying to enter through a hole that the platoon had blown in a wall to allow them observation of the area during a security patrol. When I arrived, I saw a one armed man who was still alive lying on a barricade. The man was about 30 years old. He had an old Ruger pistol hanging from his thumb. It was obvious to me that the pistol was placed there because of the way it hung from his thumb. The Iraqi was still alive when I arrived. I saw SGT Rogers shoot him twice in the back with hollow point bullets. The Iraqi was still moving. I was asking why they shot him again when I heard Sgt Hoskins say “he’s moving, he’s still alive.” SPEC Hoskins then moved to the Iraqi and shot him in the back of the head. SSG Platt and SGT Rogers were visibly excited about the kill. I saw them pull the Iraqi’s brains out as they placed him in the body bag. CPT Kirsey must have learned something about this incident because he was very upset and admonished the NCOs involved.

I have seen and heard 1SGT Spry brag about killing dogs. He kept a running count. At last count I remember he was boasting of having killed 80 dogs.

On many occasions I observed SGT Temples, SSG Platt and SGT Rogers beat and abuse Iraqi teenagers, some as young as 14, without cause. They would walk into a house near areas where they suspected we had received sniper fire, then detain and beat the kids.

I have photos that support my allegations. I also have numerous other photos on a laptop PC that the unit illegally seized from me. I have requested its return but they have refused.

My experiences have taken a terrible toll on me. I suffer from PTSD and depression. I had no way to stop the ugly actions of my unit. When I refused to participate they began to abuse and harass me. I am still in treatment at the Balboa Naval hospital. I respectfully request that you investigate these matters, that you protect my safety by reassigning me to a different unit that is not located at Fort Carson, that you return my PC or, at least, seize it to protect the evidence on it, and that you issue a military protective order to prohibit the offending members of my unit from harassing, retaliating, or contacting me.

I have some photographs and some supporting documentation to these allegations.

PFC John Needham
US Army

See the amazingly unbelievable video about John Needham's story here

Friday, December 16, 2011


Thursday, December 15, 2011


There have been reports of hundreds of American and NATO troops training militants on the Syrian border to overthrow Al-assad's regime. According to a former FBI official this has been going on since May 2011.

Why are we not hearing about this on American mainstream media? Sibel Edmonds, president of the National Security Whistle blowers Coalition, exposes what is going on around Syria.


Several days ago I listened quite attentively to a recorded speech on our statewide public radio by Gen. James Jones. Gen. Jones served as Commander, United States European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe as well as Obama's first National Security Adviser. He was invited to the University of Maine-Orono by former U.S. Sen. William Cohen (R-ME). Cohen served as Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton.

The board of directors of General Dynamics (which builds Navy Aegis destroyers here in Bath) has elected James L. Jones to be a director of the corporation, effective August 3, 2011.

Jones was instrumental in promoting the development of the new military command - Africa Command (AfriCom). The mission of AfriCom is to establish U.S. interventionary (lily pad) bases throughout the continent as the Pentagon moves to take control of the massive resource base of Africa.

Here are a few highlights from the speech by Gen. Jones:

  • We need a new paradigm of engagement.
  • NATO is in the middle of a strategic transformation. Can't afford to be passive and reactive. Demands proactive engagement. Will include coalition approach.
  • Syria represents a real opportunity. We should be working very hard to have national and international responses to ensure Syria has what the people want - economic opportunity [read corporate control of the government and economy].
  • Any Syria intervention could not be unilateral - would have to be generated through NATO. Unilateralism is not the best way to go.
  • NATO could have a major role to play in any settlement between Israel and Palestine.
  • The world does not want to see a dominant China and a lesser dominant U.S.
  • The value of forward military presence - if you lose it you never get it back. We have a phenomenal advantage being forward deployed.
  • AfriCom - don't call it a combatant command, call it something else.
You can listen to his entire speech here

Other related things of interest about Africa policy include:

  • European and U.S.-based hedge funds are buying up African lands in the name of "securing Africa's food supply".
  • U.S. AID (Agency for Int'l Development) which has long been linked to the CIA has a program to introduce corporations from India into Africa in order to play India off against China on the continent

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Once more the magician says one thing and does another.....does things George W. Bush could never have gotten away with.

I swear the oligarchy loves Obama.

The House of Representatives voted 283-136 in favor of this bill today. 93 Democrats supported it.

A friend of mine wrote to Obama asking him to veto this terrible bill. This is what she got in response from the magician (basically a rework of the Bush line):

My Administration is working every day to defeat al-Qa'ida and its extremist affiliates in Afghanistan and beyond. Shortly after taking office, I directed the Central Intelligence Agency to make the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden, al-Qa'ida's leader, a top priority. On May 1, 2011, we achieved this mission, bringing to justice a terrorist responsible for the murder of thousands of men, women, and children in the United States and around the world. Bin Laden's death does not mark the end of our efforts against al-Qa'ida, and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad as we continue working to disrupt and dismantle this terrorist network.

See how your House member voted here


Frank Donnelly with Vets for Peace sign

Click to enlarge and see my sign

Bring Our War $$ Home banner at the top
Maine artist Natasha Mayers drew lots of media attention...she is a leader in the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home and one of the few who had a sign that mentioned tax cuts at the rally

A car load of us from the Bath area went to the state capital in Augusta today for a rally opposing more cutbacks in health care for the elderly, poor, and nearly poor. Our Tea-bag governor is proposing to cut $220 million from Medicaid which will impact 65,000 people across Maine (state population is about 1.4 million). The rally drew a couple hundred folks from many constituencies that will be hit by the cuts.

There were about a dozen of us sprinkled throughout the crowd with signs making the deadly connections between tax policy, war spending and the war on social progress. My sign read: End the Wars, Tax the Rich, Fund Human Needs.

(Thanks to Mark Roman from the Bring Our War $$ Home Campaign our banner got hung at the top of the stairs behind the speakers podium at the rally.)

The speakers all made nice speeches - don't cut health care, budgets are moral documents - but none of them gave a hint of a suggestion as to what could be done otherwise to fund these important programs. Last year the Maine State Legislature passed tax cuts for the rich and some Democrats, including my own State Senator Seth Goodall (a Democrat) voted along with the Republicans for these shameful tax cuts. Now guess what? Our fiscal crisis is even worse so more social spending cuts are needed we are being told.

The rally today was organized by the group called Maine Can Do Better and that is their basic message - Maine can do better than make cuts against the poor. This organization is a loose network of social service providers, churches, unions - the basic Democratic Party constituency. The lead group is Engage Maine which is coordinated by Ben Dudley who was a state representative from Portland and served as Chairman and CEO of the Maine Democratic Party a few years back.

It is my opinion that the Democrats in Maine are timid around the operative question of "revenues" to pay for these social programs that are being slashed. Some of their own members in the legislature have voted to cut taxes on the rich so at the rally those words were never heard. These same Democrats also don't want to go near the war spending issue either so there was no way those words would ever be muttered at such a rally.

In fact we've tried to engage with Engage Maine on the war spending issue. A couple of years ago Michael Brennan (one of the few Democrats who gets it and just elected Mayor of Portland) set up a meeting for Karen Wainberg, Mary Beth Sullivan and me with Ben Dudley to discuss working together on the war spending issue. Engage Maine rejected the idea.

So one is left to wonder - what do the Democrats propose? They say these Medicaid cuts are wrong but they, and the organizations they essentially control across the state, don't offer a funding solution.

You'd think that if they had a plan they'd have utilized this golden opportunity today when a couple hundred people gathered inside the capital Hall of Flags to brief them on their plan and send them home to build support for it. But nothing like that was done.

It feels to me like this was a rally to let off steam and to paint the Republicans, who now control the state, as the bad guys. The unspoken message is clear - next election put the Democrats back in charge and they will fix things. But the truth is that these cuts in social programs began in earnest during the past Democrat Gov. Baldacci administration who had a Democrat controlled state legislature.

It appears these well meaning people who showed up in Augusta today are being used by the Democrats. They are bridled and led around like a show horse but are never turned loose to run free and wild. To do so would mean that these restive folks might just turn on both parties and make these "radical" demands - tax the rich and end these wars.

The telling moments were at the beginning and end of the rally. The moderator's first words were "Today we are here not for a political agenda." That became obvious enough.

Her parting words were to thank the crowd for being the politest rally she had ever seen. No shouting, no chanting, no impatience, no real political demands....good boys and girls. Just the way both parties like it.