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....

My Photo
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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Song


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Scrap Trident Rally Planned in London

As you all know, this year, the UK Parliament is set to vote on whether or not to replace the British Trident nuclear weapons system at an estimated cost of over £180 billion ($260 billion) and at a time when the government is slashing public spending on vital areas such as education, health and welfare services.

The majority of people of the world want to see positive steps taken towards global nuclear disarmament – but talks and negotiations have been stalled for years. The majority of people in the UK, including the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and other parliamentary party leaders, oppose nuclear weapons – now is an excellent time for a call to scrap them - not replace them. 

The UK Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is therefore organising a national demonstration to protest against Britain's Trident on Saturday, February  27th in London. This message to ‘Stop Trident’ could prove to be a vital intervention ahead of the Parliamentary discussion.

Please help us to get the message out loud and clear: we don't want a new Trident, we don’t want the current Trident - and the world doesn’t want nuclear weapons. We invite the international community to join us in saying “No” to UK government plans and “Yes” to global nuclear disarmament – the longer these weapons exist, the greater the possibility that they will be used.

Please :
a)    Join us in London on 27th February – for more information see:
b)    Come along to our special international planning meeting in London on the 28th February (see attached details) – please let us know if you are coming to this – contact:
c)     Please send messages and/or short videos of support to:
d)    Hand in letters of protest to British Embassies and other representatives.

Thank you - together we can abolish nuclear weapons once and for all.

Dave Webb
Chair, CND

New Advice Column: 'Dear Commie'

A new feature here on Organizing Notes will be this periodic 'Advice Column' called 'Dear Commie' as suggested by a reader.  So feel free to send in your questions and they will be entered into the hopper and responded to as time and space permits.

  • Dear Commie: I’m depressed about the world and wonder what should I do?  

Dear Depressed: Take two aspirin and stick your head in the sand or try watching Fox News for awhile – that should help.  If not keep pushing the rock up the hill – at the very least it is good exercise.

  • Dear Commie: I’ve been arguing with my neighbor again about Obama – is he right when he says that our president is a socialist?  

Dear Obama Fan: No Obama is not a socialist - he is a corporatist. It's time we all learned the difference.

  • Dear Commie: Don’t you ever worry about what people think of you?  I mean you being a commie and all that…. aren’t you concerned that you will lose friends and not be invited to holiday parties?  

Dear Worried: My neighbor works for the military industrial complex but seems to watch my public access TV show and is always friendly.  Actually I’m glad I never get invited to any of the holiday parties - so boring, they rarely talk about anything interesting.

  • Dear Commie: I see you must like Putin because you are the only blogger I know who does not trash him all the time.  

Dear Putinized: The Indians said put your ear to the railroad tracks and hear the train coming.  In my reading of history when I see certain leaders get demonized the next step is a US sponsored invasion or a coup d'état .  Do the names Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Mohammad Mosaddegh, Patrice Lumumba, Jacobo Árbenz, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and Bashar al-Assad mean anything to you?
  • Dear Commie: Look, if everything you say is true, then why should we bother fighting against a stacked deck?  I agree that the corporations run the show in Washington and around the world.  How can we compete with that?  My thinking is we go along and get along and enjoy the ride as long as we can.  Why do you keep messing with all this – its futile?  

Dear Give Up: One simple expression should explain it – I am stubborn as hell.

  • Dear Commie: I’m not much of a football fan, even though I did grow up thinking of my hometown Baltimore Colts as superheroes. It didn’t occur to me at the time how violent and warlike football was, not to mention how big a business it is on the backs of working slobs like me. But once I got hip to all that, I decided it wasn’t worth the assault on my peacenik sensibilities to take part in our mass cultural homage to the gridiron gladiators. But I recently moved to North Carolina and the Carolina Panthers are unavoidable now that they are going to the Super Bowl extravaganza. I wondered recently why they are named the Panthers, when there don’t seem to be any of those amazing creatures in the state. Here’s what I could find out online:

Panthers team president Mark Richardson, the son of team owner Jerry Richardson, chose the Panthers nickname because "it's a name our family thought signifies what we thought a team should be—powerful, sleek and strong." Richardson also chose the 1995 expansion team’s color scheme of black, blue, and silver, a choice that initially came under scrutiny from NFL Properties representatives. According to one newspaper report, the concern was raised at the 1993 NFL meetings that a team nicknamed the Panthers that featured black in its color scheme would appeal to street gangs and reflect poorly on the league.

So my question is, what the hell? Seems like there should have been some sort of rational or even democratic process in place (like there was for the Baltimore Ravens). And is the worry about the use of the color black just a little bit racist? I thought the Black Panthers were pretty cool really, though a little scary for a white boy like me. Am I some kind of commie for questioning all this?

Concerned in Carolina

Dear Carolina: It's a very long question...... surely you don't think that the NFL would worry that the public would respond poorly to a team being called the Black Panthers - especially with their current out spoken black quarterback taking them to the Super Bowl.... well on the other hand, maybe you are on to something..... watch the game anyway as much as you can. Just close your eyes when it gets too rough.
PS Enjoy the commercials, I'm sure there will be many of them.

  • Dear Commie: I want the system to fall, I really do. But I fear the violent reign of terror that is likely to ensue when the capitalist system collapses. History tends to suggest that phase is inevitable and causes even more suffering than the toppled regime did. Do you think it is inevitable? What is a realistic alternative?

Dear System Fail:  You are right - the capitalist system will fail, and is in fact now failing.  Think of the people in Flint, Michigan who have been drinking lead tainted water just so the corporate controlled government could shave a few bucks from the budget.  Think of the endless war$ now underway that benefit the bankers and weapons industry.  In the end what could be worse than drinking tainted water and being the recipients of US-NATO bombs?  Our job is to offer a positive transformative vision for the future - let's convert the military industrial complex and build solar, wind, rail, do more energy conservation and clean up the environment.  Imagine the jobs created and the peace that could come from such a new direction.  Now doesn't that already feel much better?  Sometimes collapse of the rotten is necessary and even positive.  So hold onto your hat and hang in there....change is on the way sooner than you might think.

We Have to Fight for Something Beautiful

Having gone far beyond an internal political struggle, the Syrian war is marked by a complex array of forces that the U.S. Empire hopes to command. Abby Martin interviews Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College and author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter.  

This is the second interview with Vijay Prashad I've recently posted - he has alot to say.

Friday, January 29, 2016

No South Korea-US-Japan War Alliance

A great statement on the 'comfort women' issue from Sung-Hee Choi of the Jeju Island naval base resistance and Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

"A solidarity message from Gangjeong village, Jeju Island. We the people of Gangjeong are so thankful for our friends' solidarity protest in London.

Since the unjust collusion on the issue of 'comfort women' between the two governments of South Korea and Japan on December 28th 2015, some of us in Gangjeong have had a small Wednesday performance of becoming the girl statue in solidarity with the 'comfort women', and with all women, in resistance to the arms companies and governments’ conspiracy to erase a critical part of our history for the sake of the South Korea-US-Japan war alliance.

Today is Wednesday and we will carry out another Wednesday performance here, too. Words and songs will be recited to remember the pain of the 'comfort women' and to remind us of our task to realize justice for them, and all the women victimized by war, including the Vietnamese women killed by South Korean soldiers during the Vietnam war.

Today coincides with the 11th anniversary of the designation of Jeju as 'The Island of World Peace' by the South Korean government; it is also the 4th anniversary of our declaration that the 'Peace Island' must be demilitarized. Why does this co-incidence make today’s event for the remembrance of the comfort women more meaningful? We understand that militarism and war grow at the sacrifice of democracy and women and children. To resume such horrible war preparations, the three governments led by the United States should first kill the memory of the victims.

On January 18, US Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken remarked that the Korean civic groups in the US should support the December 28th agreement; effectively telling citizens to stop protests to Japanese and South Korean governments. And the Japanese ruling party recently made a resolution to ask the Japanese government to demand that South Korea swiftly removes the 'comfort woman' girl statue situated nearby the Japanese embassy in Seoul. The Park Geun-Hye government in South Korea has no shame about oppressing young students are now protecting the statue day and night, disallowed to put up tents despite coldest weather in over thirty years.

We the people should wake up. Such rudeness, arrogance, and totalitarianism are all for a dangerous war alliance of which missile 'defense', including the introduction of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is a key element. It will destabilize the peace of Northeast Asia and of the world. All such phenomena prove again how achieving peace is now at stake.

To remember the 'comfort women', and all women victimized by imperialism and war, is a critical part of saving peace for the world now."

No Naval Base

UK Gangjeong Solidarity group

Korean Council For Women Drafted into Sexual Slavery By Japan

Justice For 'Comfort Women' UK

They Made Us Out of Balance

John Trudell 1980 Thanks Giving Day speech

Mr. Big the Banker

The banksters
standing at the gates
of hell
have an immoral appetite

How could it
not be true
that the corporate
plan to
take it all?

They use the cops
endless war
media control
to promote
their evil agenda

worked hard
to suppress
awareness about
of the Jews

a lawyer
for the bankers
an agent
for hell
worked hard
to help
many Nazis
from justice
at Nuremburg
War Crimes

the water
the food
even the air
the banksters
Mother Earth

BIW Lenten Vigil for Disarmament

Starting on Ash Wednesday, February 10th, we will gather to vigil, hold signs and banners and to leaflet the workers at Bath Iron Works from 11:30 am to 12:30 and then continue it every Saturday of Lent at the same time. (February 13, 20, 27, March 5, 12, 19, and Holy Saturday March 26.)

We will gather across from the BIA administration building on Washington Street in Bath standing with signs calling for the end of the building of weapons of mass destruction by General Dynamics here in Maine.

Lent is a time to awaken to what we are doing that keeps us from healing our Mother Earth from all the violence our technological society continues to inflict upon us.  The Aegis guided missile destroyers and the new Zumwalt ‘stealth’ destroyer are crimes against life.

Please join us for an hour on these Saturdays as we witness in hope for a nonviolent world through disarmament.

~ Smilin’ Trees Disarmament Farm 763-4062

Photo by Roger Leisner

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Highly Recommend Film & Book

Mary Beth and I went to see this excellent film today that is set against the backdrop of a series of historic Cold War events. 

“Bridge of Spies” tells the true story of James Donovan, a Brooklyn lawyer who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible mission to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot.

It's interesting that at this very moment I've just begun reading a new book called The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government by David Talbot.  The book chronicles the long sordid history of the Dulles reign as head of the CIA where he repeatedly did everything he could to promote war between the US and the former Soviet Union.

Related to this film Talbot writes:

The president [Eisenhower] had given his CIA director [Dulles] a long leash, but he never felt fully confident in his judgement.  The relationship between the two men would sharply fracture in May 1960 when a high-flying U-2 spy plane operated by the CIA was shot down over the Soviet Union - sabotaging an upcoming summit meeting with Khrushchev and ruining Eisenhower's final chance for a Cold War breakthrough.  Eisenhower was agonizingly aware of the political risks he was taking by authorizing the U-2 spy missions over Soviet territory, calling his on-again, off-again approval for the surveillance flights one of the most "soul-searching questions to come before a president."  But Dulles had repeatedly assured Eisenhower that the high-altitude spy planes were safe from Russian antiaircraft missiles.

On May 1, the president found out his CIA director's assurances were hollow, when a Soviet missile slammed into a U-2 plane flying over Russia's Ural Mountains, resulting in the downing of the aircraft and the capture of CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers.  The flight on the eve of the Paris Summit seemed so badly timed and planned that at least one close observer, Air Force Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, suspected that the CIA had intentionally provoked the incident in order to ruin the peace conference and ensure the continued reign of Dulles dogmatism.  Prouty, a liaison officer between the Pentagon and the CIA who was summoned by Dulles whenever CIA spy flights ran into trouble, later wrote that the U-2 shootdown was "a most unusual event" that grew out of a "tremendous underground struggle [between] the peacemakers led by President Eisenhower" and the Dulles "inner elite."
JFK assassination researchers have long shown that Dulles was intimately involved in the operation to kill the popular president.  When Vice-President Lyndon Johnson took over the government he created the Warren Commission to 'investigate' the killing of JFK. Dulles successfully lobbied the new president to appoint him to the commission.  Dulles had the motive to kill JFK since Kennedy had removed him as director of the CIA following the Bay of Pigs fiasco. That event was also orchestrated by Dulles as an attempt to not only topple the Castro government in Cuba but more importantly to ignite a war between the US and the former Soviet Union.

I highly recommend watching this movie and reading Talbot's book.  Both make significant contributions to a better understanding of that volatile period and to further understanding how the 'deep state' controls the US government to this very day.

Killing Civilians in Yemen

Britain’s role in exporting arms and providing military advisers for the Saudi Arabian-led bombing campaign in Yemen is under scrutiny following a UN report revealing widespread attacks on civilian targets.
The US is a heavy provider of weapons to Saudi Arabia as well.

The Jerry Berrigan Memorial Drone Blockade

We come to the gates of Hancock Drone Base [Syracuse, New York] today to install a memorial of Jerry Berrigan.

Jerry Berrigan, who died on July 26, 2015 at the age of 95, was a husband, a father, a brother, a teacher and someone who – like his brothers Dan and Phil – dedicated his entire life to Jesus’ command to love one another. Jerry came to the base on a bi-weekly basis whenever he was able, in Jerry’s words, “to remind the base commander of our government’s pledge under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, a treaty to safeguard non-combatant’s well-being in any warzone in which U.S. forces are engaged in combat.” And further, “to register horror and indignation at reports of bombing missions by drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan which resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians; men, women and children.”

As more and more evidence mounts regarding the illegality of U.S. drone policies, from the “Drone Papers” published by The Intercept, to the four drone pilots who have come forward to speak out about what this policy is doing, we bring Jerry’s image here to the gates to remember that this is where he would be, speaking out and putting his body on the line to say a clear “NO” to killing. Because Jerry Berrigan knew that it matters where we put our bodies.

In 2008 Jerry was asked by The Syracuse Post Standard if there was anything he would change in his life. Jerry replied, “I would have resisted more often and been arrested more often.” In our memorial today we use an image of Jerry from The Syracuse Post Standard where he is being arrested for opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

As we are installing this Jerry Berrigan Memorial Drone Blockade, we also remember Mary Anne Grady Flores who is serving a six month sentence here in the Onondaga County jail because the courts in this county believe that the colonel at this highly armed base needs protection from citizens calling attention to the drone killings. We challenge the courts to apply the law as it was meant to be applied; to protect victims not victimizers.

Syracuse has a great history of men named Jerry and resistance to injustice. We call to mind “The Jerry Rescue” memorial that stands across the street from The Federal Court house where Syracusans in 1851 literally got in the way of the illegal and immoral Fugitive Slave law and the officials who tried take a man named Jerry back to enslavement in the South. They opened the prison gates for him to go to freedom. Our intent for this memorial today in honor of Jerry Berrigan, is to get in the way of the illegal and immoral use of killer drones. And to stand in solidarity with all those resisting other injustice – from Black Lives Matter to those putting their bodies to halt climate change.

Thank you Jerry Berrigan for your life and example. Your Spirit lives on!

In peace,

Beth Adams (Leverett, MA), Bev Rice (Manhattan), Bill Ofenloch (NYC), Brian Hynes (Bronx), Charley Bowman (Buffalo), Ed Kinane (Syracuse, NY), James Ricks (Ithaca), Joan Pleune (Brooklyn), Joan Wages (Roanoke, VA), Pete Perry (Syracuse, NY), Ray McGovern (Arlington, VA), Steve Baggarly (VA)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Paying Homage to the King

  • I've said this many times... look how far the US has fallen since its revolution against the British monarchy.  The US is engaged in a love fest with the head-choppin, money wasting, war-making monarchy in Saudi Arabia.  The Saudis make war on Yemen and Obama steps up and says, "Yes sir, what can we do to help!"

  • One commentator recently wrote about Saudi Arabia for Sputnik:
The reality is that the real threats to the monarchy, domestic in nature and beyond Washington's reach, include the kingdom's general repression and particular mistreatment of its Shia minority. This was demonstrated the recent execution of cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who urged nonviolent opposition to the monarchy.
  • In a statement released by the State Department last weekend US Secretary of State John Kerry had this to say about the Saudis:  "We have as solid a relationship, as clear an alliance, and as strong a friendship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as we ever had, and nothing has changed."

  • Ultimately, Cato Institute Senior Fellow Doug Bandow writes, "whatever the alleged benefits of the Saudi alliance, America pays a high price."

"First is the cost of providing free bodyguards for the royals. For this reason the United States initiated the first Gulf War and left a garrison on Saudi soil. The inconclusive end of that conflict led to continual bombing of Iraq even during 'peacetime' and ultimately the Iraq invasion. At the Saudis’ behest, Washington backs their misbegotten war in Yemen and remains formally committed to the overthrow of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, the strongest force opposing the far more dangerous Islamic State."

  • Marjorie Cohn, professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, wrote the following for Consortium News:

Saudi Arabia has engaged in war crimes, and the United States is aiding and abetting them by providing the Saudis with military assistance. In September 2015, Saudi aircraft killed 135 wedding celebrants in Yemen. The air strikes have killed 2,800 civilians, including 500 children. Human Rights Watch charges that these bombings “have indiscriminately killed and injured civilians.”

This conflict is part of a regional power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are bombing Yemen in order to defeat the Houthi rebels, who have been resisting government repression for a long time. Iran has been accused of supporting the Houthis, although Iran denies this. Yemen is strategically located on a narrow waterway that links the Gulf of Aden with the Red Sea. Much of the world’s oil passes through this waterway.

The U.S. government should immediately halt arms transfers and military support to Saudi Arabia and support an independent investigation into U.S. arms transfers and war crimes in Yemen. The United States must stop participating in and call for an end to the de facto blockade so that humanitarian assistance can reach those in need, engage in diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty.

In an interesting twist, the Saudis contributed $10 million to the Clinton Foundation before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State. In 2011, the year after the State Department had documented myriad serious human rights violations by Saudi Arabia, Hillary Clinton oversaw a $29 billion sale of advanced fighter jets to the Saudis, declaring it was in our national interest.

The deal was “a top priority” for Secretary Clinton, according to Andrew Shapiro, an assistant secretary of state. Two months before the deal was clinched, Boeing, manufacturer of one of the fighter jets the Saudis sought to acquire, contributed $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

Hillary Clinton now says the U.S should pursue “closer strategic cooperation” with Saudi Arabia.
  • Democratic party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has repeatedly called on the US to get Saudi Arabia to do more of the killing of ISIS throughout the Middle East.  It is true that Saudi Arabia has not been engaged in the anti-ISIS coalition.  But the reason primarily is that Saudi Arabia is a major funder of ISIS which has been the shock troops for the Gulf monarchies in their dirty effort to take down Syria and destabilize Iran. Does Bernie Sanders not know this?  Seems unlikely to me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Brecht: From A German War Primer

 By Bertolt Brecht

It is considered low to talk about food.
The fact is: they have
Already eaten.

The lowly must leave this earth
Without having tasted
Any good meat.

For wondering where they come from and
Where they are going
The fine evenings find them
Too exhausted.

They have not yet seen
The mountains and the great sea
When their time is already up.

If the lowly do not
Think about what's low
They will never rise.

Meat has become unknown. Useless
The pouring out of the people's sweat.
The laurel groves have been
Lopped down.
From the chimneys of the arms factories
Rises smoke.

The forests still grow.
The fields still bear
The cities still stand.
The people still breathe.

Every month, every day
Lies open still. One of those days
Is going to be marked with a cross.

The merchants cry out for markets.
The unemployed were hungry. The employed
Are hungry now.
The hands that lay folded are busy again.
They are making shells.

Teach contentment.
Those for whom the contribution is destined
Demand sacrifice.
Those who eat their fill speak to the hungry
Of wonderful times to come.
Those who lead the country into the abyss
Call ruling too difficult
For ordinary men.

The common folk know
That war is coming.
When the leaders curse war
The mobilization order is already written out.

Are of different substance.
But their peace and their war
Are like wind and storm.

War grows from their peace
Like son from his mother
He bears
Her frightful features.

Their war kills
Whatever their peace
Has left over.

They want war.
The man who wrote it
Has already fallen.

This way to glory.
Those down below say:
This way to the grave.

Is not the first one. There were
Other wars before it.
When the last one came to an end
There were conquerors and conquered.
Among the conquered the common people
Starved. Among the conquerors
The common people starved too.

Reigns in the army.
The truth of this is seen
In the cookhouse.
In their hearts should be
The selfsame courage. But
On their plates
Are two kinds of rations.

That their enemy is marching at their head.
The voice which gives them their orders
Is their enemy's voice and
The man who speaks of the enemy
Is the enemy himself.

The married couples
Lie in their beds. The young women
Will bear orphans.

It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver.

General, your bomber is powerful.
It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant.
But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic.

General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think.

Starting 13th Year of This Issue in Maine

Christine DeTroy (Brunswick, Maine) describes growing up in Hitler's Germany, opposing the Nazis but knowing that silence was essential for survival. She sees parallels between Germany at that time and present trends in the United States.

This edition of This Issue marks the first program as I move into my 13th year of doing this public access TV show in Maine.  This Issue now airs in 14 local communities across our state.

Thanks to our great production crew of volunteers that include Eric Herter, Dan Ellis, and Peter Woodruff.

U.S. Tax $$$ at Work Training Ukrainian Neo-Nazis

US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt (part of the now infamous 'Fuck the EU' phone call with  Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland) has made a video about his recent trip to western Ukraine. 

He went to witness the US Army Special Forces train units of Ukraine's neo-Nazis for their war on the people of eastern Ukraine along the Russian border.

The US is working overtime to militarize eastern Europe and to aim the NATO military apparatus against the Russian Federation. The western corporate-dominated military bloc seeks regime change in Moscow.

White House Peace Vigiler Dies

Concepcion Picciotto, the protester who maintained a peace vigil outside the White House for more than three decades, a demonstration widely considered to be the longest-running act of political protest in U.S. history, died Jan. 25 at a housing facility operated by N Street Village, a nonprofit that supports homeless women in Washington. She was believed to be 80.
  • This news is terribly sad, what a great loss.  She reached so many people with her message and fierce determination.  I always stopped in to say hello to her whenever I went to DC.  I am heart broken to read this news.

  • I wrote a blog post about Concepcion in the spring of 2015.  You can find it here. At that time I said:

I went up to Concepción and thanked her for her dedication.  She quickly said to me, "People are such cowards.  Talk, talk, talk.....we need action."  I told her I agreed and thanked her again.  She graciously thanked me in return.

I walked on - stopping to look back from the center of Lafayette Park - I could see many people reading and reacting.  Concepción (and William) long ago achieved the goal of getting their concerns under the skin of people from all over the world.  Mostly importantly the White House, the home of the 'American illusion', has been unable to chase away a courageous old woman who suffers from skin cancer and lack of sleep.

My heart and deep respect go out to Concepción.  We need more like her.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Leave Fossil Fuels in the Ground

The oil industry is a powerhouse with control over land, resources, politics and more. In this episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin uncovers big oil's strong-arm reach--its growth, its crimes, its power and its impunity.

Featuring interviews with two investigative journalists who have covered oil disasters on-the-ground--Antonia Juhasz, author of "Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill", and Greg Palast, author of "Vulture's Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pig, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores." 

Sunday Song


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Today in Gangjeong Village

The Navy base protests continue every day of the year - no matter the weather.  No Navy base on Jeju Island, South Korea!

I  will be helping to organize another delegation to Jeju and Seoul next summer (late July and early August).  Let me know if interested.

Trump This One......

A Trump campaign video had to be pulled that used pictures of WW II Russian veterans with their chests full of medals.

It does help if the presidential candidate knows the difference between US and Russian soldiers.....although it should be remembered that during WW II the US and former Soviet Union were in fact allies against Nazi Germany.

The Soviets lost 27 million people in WW II and the US losses in all of WW II were 419,400.

Twenty Questions from the Audience

At Cape Canaveral, Florida rally in 1990 announcing I had been selected as NASA's first activist in space

I've been getting lots of questions from folks and thought I'd respond to some of them below.
1. Do you really think the US wants to control space?  Imagine the $$$ that can be made moving the arms race (and nuclear power) into space!  Mine the sky for minerals that are now becoming scarce here on Mother Earth.  Big $$$! Pyramids to the heavens.
2. Have you ever considered going to space yourself?  Yes, in fact I won a NASA contest to be the first activist in space - but once on the rocket I learned it was only a one-way ticket.  After I got to the moon I had a hell of a time hitching a ride back home.
3. Come on you are just kidding...  That's not a question.
4. Why does the US keep making war?  After having stolen most of the Native American lands here in the east, the 'American exceptionalists' kept heading westward, crossed the Pacific, and then figured they might as well go for the whole ball of wax.  They are still at it.  It's like Las Vegas, they will keep rolling the dice until someone stops them..... 

5. Is it true that you are a Communist agent?  Back in the 1980's during the times of the Cold War I was leafletting at the post office in Orlando, Florida when a man accused me of being a Soviet agent.  I told him, "Yes it is true and that damn Gorbachev is late sending me my check"..... I'm still waiting! 

6. Why do you keep referring to those who run the country as pirates?  I've never seen them dressed like Captain Hook!  I once read that the Bush clan came from a long line of pirates....just saying...... 

7. Do you think your phone is monitored?  Can't hear you, what did you say?  Meet me at the park at noon and we'll talk more about all of this. 

8. Ah, come on, seriously.....are you monitored by the government?  Yes, and I have a thick file to prove it. One police agent once tried to sell me drugs back in my Florida days. 

9. Why do so many people ignore climate change?  Climate change?  What climate change? Don't you mean El Niño?  Here in Maine I've heard many people say they like the warming trend - even some activists.  I'm going to plant banana and pineapple in the spring. 

10. Don't you take anything seriously?  Yes, that's my main problem. 

11. How can you expect anyone to follow you when you are always so negative?  I'm not asking people to follow me - I'm just asking them to rattle their chains..... Do something.....Say something.....Wake up.....Come alive.....Stop impersonating a corpse. 

12. Is there any hope for humanity?  Sometimes I wonder.  

13. Should we all plan to move to Mars?  I've got my space suit ready to go..... no, on second thought the dry, dusty red planet is not so attractive to me.  I'll stay here and tend to my banana and pineapple plants. 

14. How come you don't like Obama?  Who? 

15. You just don't like Democrats, do you?  I loved Jimmy Carter and worked on his campaign because he said, "The arms race is a disgrace to the human race."  Then after he became president he built the Kings Bay Trident nuclear submarine base in St. Mary's, Georgia near the Florida border.  I protested there many times over the years and got wise to the Democrats game.  Fool me once..... 

16. See I knew you were a commie!  I guess you are right.....You should see my impersonation of Lenin....

17. Back to space, do you believe in aliens?  Sure why not? There has to be someone out there with more intelligence than us least I hope so.  

18. Have you ever met one?  You mean an alien?  God knows.....I've sure met a lot of people who appeared to be from some other planet - how about the crowd in Congress?  They must come from some place else the way they are destroying our Mother Earth. 

19. What is with all this Mother Earth stuff?  Well it makes sense - we are born from this planet which teems with life - our earth is always pregnant with new life.  But now our Mother is in toxic shock and her body is thrashing about in pain.  Look at the huge storm right now along the Mid-Atlantic coast.  Three feet of snow predicted.  Very unusual for that part of the country. 

20. OK, now I know you are crazy!  Thanks for the endorsement.  I'm just doing my best. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Genocide in Flint

Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group".  The majority of the residents of Flint, Michigan are poor and unemployed black people having lost their jobs when the auto industry moved out of their city.  They are now superfluous populations and the racist Republican Governor Rick Snyder of that state knowingly allowed this lead in the water crisis to fester.

Capitalism doesn't give one damn about the people - corporate profits come first, second, and last.  The people on this planet need to walk away from capitalism and their sociopathic political agents who are killing us daily with war, environmental destruction, growing poverty and loss of our civil liberties.

The Native Americans said the white man was blinded by his love for the 'green frog skin' - the dollar bill.  The Native people said the white man could not see and understand his relationship to nature because of his spiritual disconnection from our Mother Earth.  Now the corporate masters want to put every one of us on the reservation - a reservation of toxicity, undrinkable water, unclean air, endless violence and dire poverty.

Time has come to rattle our chains while we still can - these corporate pirates are out to kill us all. No one is safe with these bastards in power.

Palin Speaks in Tongues to Endorse Trump

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Syria: Has Anyone Stepped Back from the Brink?

By Michael Jabara Carley

The Syrian crisis is a good example of duplicity and politician hypocrisy. While the Security Council unanimously adopted two resolutions, the first against the financing of Al Qaeda and Daesh and the second for peace in Syria, the war continues, fueled by... members of the Security Council. Is it an inability to be obeyed by his government, or a political incompetency who does not know what to do, or even a Machiavellian desire to make war without saying it?

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, recently visited Moscow to discuss the Syrian crisis with his colleague Sergei Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin. Journalists observed handshakes, smiles, even hearty laughter, between Kerry and his Russian counterparts. Syrian President Bashar al Assad does not have to resign immediately, Kerry declared, and the United States is not trying to isolate Russia. What good news, and what a surprise for the Russians. The Moscow show seemed a great success. Kerry strolled along Stariy Arbat Street, met smiling Russian pedestrians and bought souvenirs to take home. A few days later the UN Security Council passed a resolution, calling for a ceasefire and negotiations. Russian and western journalists alike now say there is some hope to avoid the worst in Syria. And as you may already know, if the United States wants a ceasefire, it’s because their "moderate" Jihadist allies are getting beaten up now by the Syrian Arab Army backed by Russian air support.

See the rest of the story here

All in Favor Say Aye......

The Power of Right-Wing Media

A film by Jen Senko

A filmmaker examines the rise of right-wing media through the lens of her father, whose immersion in it radicalized him and rocked the foundation of their family. She discovers this political phenomenon recurring in living rooms everywhere, and reveals the consequences conservative media has had on families and a nation.
See more here

How Many Military Bases Does the Pentagon Really Need?

Those who come to my Feb 7 talk in Brunswick will be treated to my very first ever PowerPoint presentation.  There are so many photos I'd like to share that I had to finally break down and learn to do PowerPoint.

In addition to the event above I'll be joining fellow VFP delegation members from Maine Russell Wray (Hancock) and Dud Hendrick (Deer Isle) for a similar talk on Thursday, Feb 4, 7:00 pm at Emlen Hall, Bay School in Blue Hill.  The public is also invited to attend that event.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What Are You Going to Do About U.S. Bases?

The Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins (114 left as of last count in 2009) used to swim around Jeju Island, South Korea every day but since the Navy base construction in Gangjeong village has polluted the water so badly the dolphins now avoid the area.

My Op-Ed about our recent VFP trip to Jeju Island and Okinawa was printed in the Opinion section of our local newspaper today.  The Times Record editor though decided he didn't want people to read one paragraph (see it in red below) and took it out before publishing the piece in the paper and at their web site.  I forwarded evidence from American University Professor David Vine that the U.S. has 1,000 bases around the world so I was even low-balling the numbers with my figure of 800 bases.  It really burns me up to have those who tout 'freedom of the press' censor words that they feel might 'dishonor our troops' - especially in a piece on the 'Opinion' page that is giving voice to people all over the world who suffer from US bases.


Imagine building a set of twin military runways out into a pristine bay among the beautiful coral reefs and endangered sea mammals (dugong). Imagine 3.5 million 10-ton dump truck loads of landfill being dumped into the bay to build the runways. Imagine the howls of protests if this was being done here in Maine.  

This story is real, and the plan is to do this on Okinawa at Oura Bay in order to build a new US Marine airfield. Few in America have heard about this calamity, but for more than 450 days people in Okinawa have been protesting by blocking the gates of a US Marine base called Camp Schwab.

In early December I co-led a national Veterans For Peace (VFP) delegation to Jeju Island, South Korea where a new Navy base is being built that will port US warships – including the Aegis destroyers built at BIW.  Twelve members of VFP went on the trip – three of us from Maine.  For the first week we sat with Gangjeong villagers on Jeju Island blocking the construction gate only to be picked up and carried out of the way by police several times each day.  

During the second week of the trip our VFP delegation traveled to Okinawa where the US today has 30 bases. One out of every four Okinawans was killed during the American “liberation” of the island from the Japanese in 1945. We’ve had bases there ever since. At two museums we visited I was astonished to see that since 1953 there have been regular protests against our bases.  

On three occasions we went to the gates of Camp Schwab in order to join the daily human blockades. Most of the people being dragged off by Japanese police for sitting in the road were senior citizens. The women were particularly amazing as they held on to one another and cried aloud demanding that this environmental catastrophe be stopped.  

The VFP delegation met with the mayors of two Okinawan cities that will be directly impacted by the new Marine airfield. One evening we were invited to attend an event inside a huge auditorium that drew 1,300 people. At this convocation Okinawan Governor Takeshi Onaga and other leading politicians spoke out in opposition to the construction of the controversial runway. Gov. Onaga has pulled the airfield construction permit, but the right-wing government in Tokyo, which controls Okinawa, overruled him under the clear direction of US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy (she has repeatedly told the Okinawan people to get over it). Gov. Onaga has gone to the Japanese Supreme Court seeking a ruling that respects their local autonomy. In fact, 80% of the people of Okinawa oppose the new Marine airfield.

The Pentagon today has more than 800 military bases scattered around the world. It’s well known that due to the rapes, drinking and violence toward the host people, US troops are not wanted in most of these places. 

As the Obama administration ‘pivots’ 60% of US military forces into the Asia-Pacific region in order to ‘control’ China, people in Okinawa and South Korea understand they are key targets if and when a war breaks out between Washington and Beijing.  

Not only is a looming war causing such active resistance today, it is the US’s utter disregard for local sovereignty and democracy that inflames people against Washington. The bases being built on Jeju Island and in Okinawa are environmental nightmares. The people are watching their life source – the ocean where their food and livelihood comes from – being torn apart to satisfy the Pentagon’s demand for ‘one more base.’

When our VFP delegation left both of these islands the people asked us the same questions: What are you going to do when you go home?  When are the American people going to stand up and stop this madness that is killing our environment, our culture, and our peaceful way of life?

On Sunday, February 7 PeaceWorks will host my talk about these trips at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick at 4:00 pm. The public is invited.

      ~ Bruce K. Gagnon lives in Bath and is a member of PeaceWorks and Veterans For Peace   

Democrats in 'Group Think' Land

By Robert Parry

A curious reality about Official Washington is that to have “credibility” you must accept the dominant “group thinks” whether they have any truth to them or not, a rule that applies to both the mainstream news media and the political world, even to people who deviate from the pack on other topics.

For instance, Sen. Bernie Sanders may proudly declare himself a “democratic socialist” – far outside the acceptable Washington norm – but he will still echo the typical propaganda about Syria, Russia, Iran and other “designated villains.” Like other progressives who spend years in Washington, he gets what you might called “Senate-ized,” adopting that institution’s conventional wisdom about “enemies” even if he may differ on whether to bomb them or not.

That pattern goes in spades for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other consciously “centrist” politicians as well as media stars, like NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Lester Holt, who were the moderators of Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate. They know what they know based on what “everybody who’s important” says, regardless of the evidence or lack thereof.

So, you had Mitchell and Holt framing questions based on Official Washington’s “group thinks” – and Sanders and Clinton responding accordingly.

Regarding Iran, Sanders may have gone as far as would be considered safe in this political environment, welcoming the implementation of the agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program but accepting the “group think” about Iran’s “terrorism” and hesitant to call for resumption of diplomatic relations.

“Understanding that Iran’s behavior in so many ways is something that we disagree with; their support of terrorism, the anti-American rhetoric that we’re hearing from their leadership is something that is not acceptable,” Sanders said. “Can I tell you that we should open an embassy in Tehran tomorrow? No, I don’t think we should.”

Blaming Iran

In her response, Clinton settled safely behind the Israeli-preferred position – to lambaste Iran for supposedly fomenting the trouble in the Middle East, though more objective observers might say that the U.S. government and its “allies” – including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – have wreaked much more regional havoc than Iran has.

“We have to go after them [the Iranians] on a lot of their other bad behavior in the region which is causing enormous problems in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere,” Clinton said.

Yet, how exactly Iran is responsible for “enormous problems” across the region doesn’t get explained. Everybody just “knows” it to be true, since the claim is asserted by Israel’s right-wing government and repeated by U.S. pols and pundits endlessly.

Yet, in Iraq, the chaos was not caused by Iran, but by the U.S. government’s invasion in 2003, which then-Sen. Clinton supported (while Sen. Sanders opposed it). In Yemen, it is the Saudis and their Sunni coalition that created a humanitarian disaster by bombing the impoverished country after wildly exaggerating Iran’s support for Houthi rebels.

In Syria, the core reason for the bloodshed is not Iran, but decisions of the Bush-43 administration last decade and the Obama administration this decade to seek another “regime change,” ousting President Bashar al-Assad.

Supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni powers, this U.S.-backed “covert” intervention instigated both political unrest and terrorist violence inside Syria, including arming jihadist forces such as Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and its close ally, Ahrar al-Sham and – to a lesser degree – Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State. [See’s “Hidden Origins of Syria’s Civil War.“]

The desire of these Sunni powers — along with Israel and America’s neoconservatives — was to shatter the so-called “Shiite crescent” that they saw reaching from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon. Since Assad is an Alawite, a branch of Shiite Islam, he had to be removed even though he was regarded as the principal protector of Syria’s Christian, Shiite and Alawite minorities. [See’s “Did Money Seal Saudi-Israeli Alliance?’]

However, while Israel and the Sunni powers get a pass for their role in the carnage, Iran is blamed for its assistance to the Syrian military in battling these jihadist groups. Official Washington’s version of this tragedy is that the culprits are Assad, the Iranians and now the Russians, who also intervened to help the Syrian government resist the jihadists, both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s various friends and associates. [See’s “Climbing into Bed with Al Qaeda.”]

Blaming Assad

Official Washington also accepts as undeniably true that Assad is responsible for all 250,000 deaths in the Syrian civil war – even those inflicted by the Sunni jihadists against the Syrian military and Syrian civilians – a logic that would have accused President Abraham Lincoln of slaughtering all 750,000 or so people – North and South – who died in the U.S. Civil War.

The “group think” also holds that Assad was behind the sarin gas attack near Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, despite growing evidence that it was a jihadist group, possibly with the help of Turkish intelligence, that staged the outrage as a provocation to draw the U.S. military into the conflict against Syria’s military by creating the appearance that Assad had crossed Obama’s “red line” on using chemical weapons.

Mitchell cited Assad’s presumed guilt in the sarin attack in asking Clinton: “Should the President have stuck to his red line once he drew it?”

Trying to defend President Obama in South Carolina where he is popular especially with the black community, Clinton dodged the implicit criticism of Obama but accepted Mitchell’s premise.

“I know from my own experience as Secretary of State that we were deeply worried about Assad’s forces using chemical weapons because it would have had not only a horrific effect on people in Syria, but it could very well have affected the surrounding states, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey. …

“If there is any blame to be spread around, it starts with the prime minister of Iraq, who sectarianized his military, setting Shia against Sunni. It is amplified by Assad, who has waged one of the bloodiest, most terrible attacks on his own people: 250,000-plus dead, millions fleeing. Causing this vacuum that has been filled unfortunately, by terrorist groups, including ISIS.”

Clinton’s account – which ignores the central role that the U.S. invasion of Iraq and outside support for the jihadists in Syria played in creating ISIS – represents a thoroughly twisted account of how the Mideast crisis evolved. But Sanders seconded Clinton’s recitation of the “group think” on Syria, saying:

“I agree with most of what she said. … And we all know, no argument, the Secretary is absolutely right, Assad is a butcher of his own people, man using chemical weapons against his own people. This is beyond disgusting. But I think in terms of our priorities in the region, our first priority must be the destruction of ISIS. Our second priority must be getting rid of Assad, through some political settlement, working with Iran, working with Russia.” [See’s “A Blind Eye Toward Turkey’s Crimes.”]

Sanders also repeated his talking point that Saudi Arabia and Qatar must “start putting some skin in the game” – ignoring the fact that the Saudis and Qataris have been principal supporters of the Sunni jihadists inflicting much of the carnage in Syria. Those two rich countries have put plenty of “skin in the game” except it comes in the slaughter of Syrian Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other religious minorities.

Blaming Russia

NBC anchor Lester Holt then recited the “group think” about “Russian aggression” in Ukraine – ignoring the U.S. role in instigating the Feb. 22, 2014 coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Holt also asserted Moscow’s guilt in the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 despite the lack of any solid evidence to support that claim.

Holt asked: “Secretary Clinton, you famously handed Russia’s foreign minister a reset button in 2009. Since then, Russia has annexed Crimea, fomented a war in Ukraine, provided weapons that downed an airliner and launched operations, as we just did discuss, to support Assad in Syria. As president, would you hand Vladimir Putin a reset button?”

While noting some positive achievements from the Russian “reset” such as a new nuclear weapons treaty, help resupplying U.S. troops in Afghanistan and assistance in the nuclear deal with Iran, Clinton quickly returned to Official Washington’s bash-Putin imperative:

“When Putin came back in the fall of 2011, it was very clear he came back with a mission. And I began speaking out as soon as that happened because there were some fraudulent elections held, and Russians poured out into the streets to demand their freedom, and he cracked down. And in fact, accused me of fomenting it. So we now know that he has a mixed record to say the least and we have to figure out how to deal with him. …

“And I know that he’s someone that you have to continuingly stand up to because, like many bullies, he is somebody who will take as much as he possibly can unless you do. And we need to get the Europeans to be more willing to stand up, I was pleased they put sanctions on after Crimea and eastern Ukraine and the downing of the airliner, but we’ve got to be more united in preventing Putin from taking a more aggressive stance in Europe and the Middle East.”

In such situations, with millions of Americans watching, no one in Official Washington would think to  challenge the premises behind these “group thinks,” not even Bernie Sanders. No one would note that the U.S. government hasn’t provided a single verifiable fact to support its claims blaming Assad for the sarin attack or Putin for the plane shoot-down. No one would dare question the absurdity of blaming Assad for every death in Syria’s civil war or Putin for all the tensions in Ukraine. [See, for instance,’s “MH-17’s Unnecessary Mystery.”]

Those dubious “group thinks” are simply accepted as true regardless of the absence of evidence or the presence of significant counter-evidence.

The two possibilities for such behavior are both scary: either these people, including prospective presidents, believe the propaganda or that they are so cynical and cowardly that they won’t demand proof of serious charges that could lead the United States and the world into more war and devastation.

~ Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Primer on 'Missile Offense'

Primer on 'missile defense' and Star Wars produced by Global Network board convener Dave Webb from the UK....
Dave also chairs the UK's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and runs the Global Network web site at  
The US-NATO endless war project is encircling Russia and China with these 'missile offense' systems that are key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning. These systems are provocative and destabilizing as they give one side a big advantage over the other - thus the reason they were outlawed under the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty between the US and Russia.  
Soon after stealing the election in 2000 George W. Bush pulled the US out of the treaty. Since then the US Space Command's 'Missile Defense Agency' has been on steroids developing, testing, and deploying these expensive and dangerous systems.

Oh, That Was the Americans......

 Really good satire - the best satire is that which is laced with truth and this one surely is.....

Monday, January 18, 2016

MLK's Warning of America's Spiritual Death

By Gary G. Kohls 

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Riverside Church speech was titled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” It was delivered exactly one year before his April, 4, 1968 assassination in Memphis. In the speech, King declared, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

The people who heard that speech recognized it as one of the most powerful speeches ever given articulating the immorality of the Vietnam War and its destructive impact on social progress in the United States. In explaining his decision to follow his conscience and speak out against U.S. militarism, King said:

“I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

But King went farther, diagnosing the broader disease of militarism and violence that was endangering the soul of the United States. King said, “I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.”

Poisoning America’s Soul

King knew very well that the disease of violence was killing off more than social progress in America. Violence was sickening the nation’s soul as well. He added “If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read ‘Vietnam’.” King urged his fellow citizens to take up the causes of the world’s oppressed, rather than taking the side of the oppressors. He said:

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

“We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace and justice throughout the developing world – a world that borders on our doors.

“If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight.”

King pointed to an alternate path into the future: “Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter – but beautiful – struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard?”

Signing His Own Death Warrant

By denouncing so forcefully the war crimes that the U.S. military was committing daily in the killing fields of Vietnam, some of King’s followers understood that he had just signed his own death warrant. But King, being a person of conscience, was compelled to express his deep sense of moral outrage over the horrific maiming, suffering and dying of millions of innocent Vietnamese civilians in that unjust war that afflicted mostly unarmed women and children and that was going to leave behind lethal poisons in the soil, water and unborn babies that would last for generations.

He knew that non-combatants are always the major victims of modern warfare, especially wars that indiscriminately used highly lethal weapons that rained down from the air, especially the U.S. Air Force’s favorite weapon, napalm — the flaming, jellied gasoline that burned the flesh off of whatever part of the burning adult or child it splashed onto.

King also connected the racist acts (of American soldiers joyfully killing dispensable non-white “gooks” and “slants” — often shooting at “anything that moves”) on the battlefields of Southeast Asia to the oppression, impoverishment, imprisoning and lynching of dispensable, deprived non-white “niggers” in America.

King saw the connections between the violence of racism and the violence of poverty. He saw that the withholding of economic and educational opportunities came from the fear of “the other” and the perceived need to protect the white culture’s wealth and privilege – with violence if necessary.

King knew, too, that fortunes are made in every war, and the war in Vietnam was no exception. In his speeches, he talked about that unwelcome reality that the ruling class preferred not be discussed. That meant his well-attended Riverside Church speech threatened not only the powerful interests already arrayed against his civil rights struggle but also the interests of the war profiteers and the national security establishment.

War is Good Business

The longer the Vietnam War lasted, the more the weapons manufacturers thrived. With their huge profits, there was a strong incentive for these financial elites to continue the carnage. And therefore the Wall Street war profiteers financed, out of their ill-gotten gains, battalions of industry lobbyists and pro-military propagandists who descended upon Washington, DC, and the Pentagon to claim even more tax dollars for weapons research, development and manufacture.

With that funding secured, armies of desperate jobs-seekers were hired to work in thousands of weapons factories that were strategically placed in congressional districts almost everywhere, with weapons research grants likewise being awarded to virtually every university in the nation. Thus, weapons-manufacturing and R&D soon became vitally important for almost every legislator’s home district economy as well as for the household budgets of millions of American voters who indirectly benefitted from the U.S. military’s killing, maiming, displacement, starvation and suffering of non-white people in war zones.

King’s anti-war stance was based on his Christianity and on the ethics and life of Jesus, but it was also based on his standing as a revered international peace and justice icon. Those factors made him a dangerous threat to the military/industrial/congressional/security complex.

The powerful forces that were working hard to discredit King had already infiltrated the civil rights movement. Their efforts, cunningly led by the proto-fascist and racist J. Edgar Hoover and his obedient FBI, accelerated after the Riverside speech. The FBI ramped up the smear campaigns against King. Eventually he was “neutralized” with a bullet to the head. [The case for believing that King’s murder was not simply the act of lone gunman James Earl Ray is laid out in many studies, including attorney William F. Pepper’s An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King.]

King’s Prophetic Vision

Now, almost five decades after his anti-war speech (which was widely kept from the public), it is clear how prophetic King’s observations were. America is indeed losing its soul. Violence, racism, militarism and economic oppression are still American epidemics.

Both upper- and middle-class investors of get-rich-quick schemes in America have succumbed to predatory lenders, cannibalistic corporate mergers and acquisitions, psychopathic multinational corporate schemers, corrupt crony capitalists, and the rapist/exploiters of the land and water by extractive industries – all schemes that will eventually burst as part of predictable economic bubbles.

Those busted bubbles regularly wipe out investors (except for the large, deep-pocketed “insiders” who, usually being forewarned, will have sold their holdings just in time, before the publicly revealed “bust”), leaving the taxpayers to bail out the financial messes that were created by the so-called “invisible hand of the market” but are really caused by the cunning work of corporate gamblers.

King was trying to warn us not just about the oncoming epidemic of violence toward victims at home but also about the tens of millions of people around the world who were and are still being victimized by U.S. military misadventures. King was also warning us about the multinational corporate war profiteers whose interests are facilitated and protected by the U.S. military – whether they are operating in Asia, Latin America, Africa or the Middle East.

The Pentagon budget averages well over $700 billion per year, including wars that are often illegal and unconstitutional. That amounts to $2 billion per day with no visible return on investment, except for the military contractors, the oil industries and Wall Street financiers.

Vast sums also are needed to address the physical and mental health costs needed for the palliative care for the permanently maimed and psychologically-traumatized veterans. Hundreds of millions of dollars more are spent paying down the interest payments on past military debts.

All those potentially bankrupting costs represent money that will never be available for programs of social uplift like combatting racism, poverty and hunger, or paying for affordable housing/healthcare, universal education or meaningful job creation. Can anyone else hear a demonic laugh reverberating down Wall Street?

King was warning America about its oncoming spiritual death if it didn’t convert itself away from military violence. But most observers of the U.S. see America still worshipping at the altars of the Gods of War and Greed. Our children may be doomed.

The vast majority of American Christian churches (whether fundamentalist, conservative, moderate or liberal, with very few exceptions) have failed King’s vision, despite the lip service they sometimes give to King on MLK Day. Churches whose members were brought up on the Myth of American Exceptionalism (and the myth of being “God’s chosen people”) consistently refuse to take a stand against the satanic nature of war.

Past the Point of No Return?

If America is to avert future financial and military catastrophes, King’s central warnings about the “triple evils” of militarism, racism and economic oppression must be heeded. That means a retreat from worldwide network of budget-busting military bases. And, if America wants to shed the justified label of “Rogue Nation,” the covert killing operations of its secret black ops mercenary military units all around the world must be stopped, as should the infamous extrajudicial assassinations by America’s unmanned drones.

If King’s 47-year-old warning continues to be ignored, America’s future is bleak. The future holds the dark seeds of economic chaos, hyperinflation, unendurable poverty, increasing racial/minority hostility, worsening malnutrition, armed rebellion, street fighting, and perhaps, ultimately, institution of a reactionary totalitarian/surveillance police state in order to control citizen protests and quell rebellions.

In 1967, many Americans considered King hopeful vision for a better future as irrational idealism. He was told that the task was too great, the obstacles were too imposing, and there was no will for even the churches to reverse their age-old, conservative pseudo-patriotism and society’s institutional racism. I suspect that many of the churches that called King a communist and therefore ignored him back then wish that they could turn back the clock and give King’s (and Jesus’s) path a try.

King finished his speech with these challenges: “War is not the answer. We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace and justice throughout the developing world – a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight.”

And he had these sobering words for the churches that are immersed in a polytheistic culture (the worship of multiple gods, including the gods of war and mammon) and thus are tempted to quietly ally themselves with those gods rather than the God of Love that King was devoted to:

“I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. I have looked at her beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlay of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over again I have found myself asking: ‘What kind of people worship here? Who is their God?’”

Today, the task is even tougher, the obstacles much more imposing, but the path that King outlined remains. MLK Day should be a good time to start seriously reconsidering King’s radical message.

~ Dr. Gary G. Kohls is a retired physician who writes about peace, justice, militarism, mental health and religious issues.