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. @BruceKGagnon

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Syria Plan

Wars and rumors of wars: The Pentagon has requested an unprecedented budget. What threatens the United States and its allies the most? Is Russia one of those threats, or is it more failed military interventions?

Who Gives the $$$$?

Can we learn to say oil-i-garchy?

In the Merriam Webster Dictionary they say Oligarchy is: Government in which power is in the hands of a few...

To War or Not to War - That is the Question

Maine Veterans for Peace members John Morris (top) and Peter Morgan (bottom photo) joined us in Bath on ash Wednesday for the start of the Lenten season vigils at the Navy shipyard.  We carry on again this coming Saturday at 11:30 am and each Saturday in February through to the end of March. Thanks to the Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm for their Lenten vigil coordination. (Photos by Roger Leisner)

To war
or not
to war
that is the question

Any answer
other than
a resounding 
is too
and insane
to ponder

Why though
war machine
push on
to bomb
and slaughter?

The Massacre of the Innocents
in a technological
of King Herod
on steroids

Where does this
war cancer come from?
How does one lance
this ugly boil 
of endless 
death mongering?

Shall we 
this rush
to war?

Lent is
of penitence

Where are
the church voices
calling for peace
and for turning
the local
sword making factory
into plowshares? 

is the
so deafening? 

Are we
on our knees
because we 
are in prayer
or in an act
of submission? 

This Day in History:  On February 12, 1997 in "Prince of Peace Plowshares," six activists poured blood and symbolically disarmed U.S.S. The Sullivans, a nuclear-capable Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. All were eventually convicted of destruction of government property and conspiracy. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tensions Heating Up Fast

As would be expected when the US-NATO increase their military operations along Russia's border, Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia must respond.  Imagine if Russia or China were deploying troops, tanks, and missiles in Canada or Mexico.  The already hyper-aggressive Washington political apparatus would go ballistic.

In my mind Moscow has been quite restrained under the current US-NATO push toward what appears to be preparations for war.  Russia is being provoked and surrounded and the same thing is happening to China.  Look at US moves in Ukraine, Turkey, Syria, Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.  Look at US military upgrades in South Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Australia.  It's a massive military build-up - and to what end if not war?

Sadly few, including the presidential candidates and vast numbers of their supporters, are paying little to no attention to this Pentagon rush to war.  You would think it would be an issue, as well as its massive costs, at the very time that lead pipes in Flint, closing schools, growing poverty, crumbling roads and bridges, climate change, and health care costs are slamming the people in the face.

The presidential horse race, distracting us from these vital war-peace issues, almost appears to be a key part of this deep state script.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday on Jeju Island

Catholic priests and nuns at the Navy base gate in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea.  

They are there every single day.

Honoring Occupy's Message

  • I never agreed with the critics who complained that the Occupy movement lacked a message.  I watched mainstream media daily repeat the words "We are the 99%" (a sign with that message is still in our front window). It was a strong statement that the ruling 1% is stealing us all blind.  That message resonated loud and clear to me and likely with most people.  Thus it is no surprise that Bernie Sanders has grabbed that theme and folks who feel they have no future are solidly in his camp.

  • But I have no faith in the corporate dominated Democrat Party.  I wrote to Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein this morning forwarding the article by Holly Wood (see below post). I told Jill:  "Have you seen this brilliant piece?  Quite impressive. Keep pushing – I still believe the corporate Dems will sandbag Sanders and these young folks will be looking around – so stay relevant.  I’m sending you $27 today."

  • The power boys are freaking out - this current manifestation of the Occupy message can't be dragged out of some park.  People are now occupying the voting booth and are calling the bluff of the 'democracy builders' that run Washington.  It's going to be fascinating to see how the corporate oligarchy will react next - the young folks ain't paying attention to the editorial writers at the New York Times and Washington Post.
  • MB and I watched Trump's speech last night after he won the New Hampshire Republican primary.  Big talking, say nothing, ego-centric, illogical to thinking humans, greedy, and selfish.  I remarked that his campaign is the perfect symbol for the collapsing US empire. 

  • Robert Parry at Consortium News writes about the horse race today with these words:
 Hillary Clinton (like Jeb Bush) faces the misfortune of running a legacy campaign at a time when the voters are angry about the legacies of both “ruling families,” the Clintons and the Bushes. Though Sanders is a flawed candidate faulted for his muddled foreign-policy prescriptions, he (like Trump) has seized the mantle of fighting the Establishment at a time when millions of Americans are fed up with the Establishment and its self-serving policies...If Clinton continues to stumble, there will be enormous pressure from Democratic leaders to push her aside and draw Vice President Joe Biden or perhaps Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the race.
  • We had our first Lenten vigil at Bath Iron Works today.  Thirteen folks joined us across from the administration building at the shipyard.  We got quite a few car honks (even some from workers) - I think people like our message that rail systems and wind turbines should be produced instead of more death inducing Navy destroyers.  We return again each Saturday all through Lent (Feb 13, 20, 27 and March 5, 12, 19, 26) from 11:30 am to 12:30.

  • A wonderful surprise appeared in the Global Network's post office box yesterday.  An unsolicited grant in the amount of $25,000 came in from craigslist Charitable Fund.  This is the 3rd year in a row that this donation came to us.  The support from craigslist has really made it possible for us to expand our international outreach.  In the attached letter the Charitable Fund wrote, "Your mission and good work are appreciated."  We are grateful for their support.

Feeling the Yern: Why One Millenial Woman Would Rather Go to Hell Than Vote For Hillary

I am not an enthusiastic supporter of Bernie Sanders largely because of his tepid foreign policy pronouncements.  But I must give him credit for taking on the big $$$ from Wall Street - he's done well to give voice to the Occupy movement's articulation of the need to end the power of the 1% who literally own the country and much of the world.  This article below by Holly Wood is one of the best things I've seen written in years and god do I ever love her satire and her truth telling.  Enjoy.

By Holly Wood
February 8, 2016
The Village Voice

There seems to be no shortage of bizarrely sexist assumptions as to why I, a Millennial feminist, am not voting for Hillary Clinton. But speaking as a Millennial feminist, let me assure you: None of them is accurate. But the reason for my political disaffection is plain: There's no persuading me that the Democratic establishment — from where it sits now — has the capacity to represent me, or my values.  
Stumping for Hillary Clinton this weekend in New Hampshire, hedge fund manager Madeleine Albright squawked, "There's a special place in Hell for women who don't help each other."

When the Democratic National Committee chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was asked earlier this year why she thought Millennials resist Hillary Clinton, she casually threw them under the bus. "Here's what I see," she groused. "A complacency among the generation of young women whose entire lives have been lived after Roe v. Wade was decided."

Asked a similar question by Bill Maher this past Friday, women's-rights icon Gloria Steinem cawed, "When you're young, you're thinking, 'Where are the boys?' The boys are with Bernie."

There seems to be no shortage of bizarrely sexist assumptions as to why I, a Millennial feminist, am not voting for Hillary Clinton. But speaking as a Millennial feminist, let me assure you: None of them is accurate. Granted, the span of my political biography is only as long as it took Howard Dean to go from human rights crusader to insurance lobbyist. But the reason for my political disaffection is plain: I've spent my entire Millennial life watching the Democratic Party claw its way up the ass of corporate America. There's no persuading me that the Democratic establishment — from where it sits now — has the capacity to represent me, or my values.

And I'm not alone. According to a 2013 poll by Harvard's Kennedy School, three out of five of my peers now believe politicians prioritize private gain over the public good. When young people open to gauge just how cheaply our futures trade these days, are we being cynical, or just realistic?

If Millennials are coming out in droves to support Bernie Sanders, it's not because we are tripping balls on Geritol. No, Sanders's clever strategy of shouting the exact same thing for 40 years simply strikes a chord among the growing number of us who now agree: Washington is bought. And every time Goldman Sachs buys another million-dollar slice of the next American presidency, we can't help but drop the needle onto Bernie's broken record:

The economy is rigged.

Democracy is corrupted.

The billionaires are on the warpath.

Sanders has split the party with hits like these, a catchy stream of pessimistic populism. Behind this arthritic Pied Piper, the youth rally, brandishing red-lettered signs reading "MONEYLENDERS OUT." If you ask them, they'll tell you there's a special place in Hell for war criminals who launch hedge funds.

Last week in Iowa, Sanders proved his bleak candor is every bit as appealing to American voters as Hillary's enthusiasm for tweakmanship. Especially among the youth. According to entrance polls, Millennials backed Comrade Sanders over Neoliberal Clinton by a tidy 70-point margin. And in New Hampshire, the most recent UMass poll has Sanders taking 89 percent of the state's Democrats under 30.

But these numbers should not surprise you. According to a YouGov poll conducted last week, people under 30 are more likely to say they support socialism than capitalism.

Capitalism, as Vonnegut explained, is "what the people with all our money, drunk or sober, sane or insane, decided to do today." We've just spent a lifetime watching capitalism buy itself a government. And I'll be frank: It's not working well for most of us. Drones make orphans in our name. Our friends will die indebted. We are poisoning our own well.

The spectacle of our government's being bought is so obvious, even the youngest among us can see it. "With Hillary," eighteen-year-old Olivia Sauder told Times reporters at the Iowa Caucus, "sometimes you get this feeling that all of her sentences are owned by someone."

Ding, ding, ding.

Having once been marked by the Onion's A.V. Club as a "hyper-articulate radical feminist communist," I feel uniquely qualified to pour you a rich cup of cold-brewed truth here: The kids are lit. And yet despite our frank rejection of establishment politics, establishment media waste no time swooping in to lecture us about our cognitive defects like so many pedantic barn owls.

"Stay sane, America!" hoots David Brooks for the Times, going on to equate voting one's conscience with voting for overt fascist Donald Trump. It's plainly bananas, says Brooks, to waste a primary vote on a man threatening disestablishment. There's no way he can win.

Yet according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on February 5, Bernie has 42 percent of the national Dem vote to Hillary's 44 percent. "Democrats nationwide are feeling the Bern as Senator Bernie Sanders closes a 31-point gap to tie Secretary Hillary Clinton," says Quinnipiac's assistant director Tim Molloy in Friday's press release. And according to Gallup's January numbers, Sanders's net favorability among Democrats is actually four points higher than Hillary's. By most poll estimates, Dems say they are just as, if not more, likely to vote for Bernie as Hillary against any Republican front-runner.

But David Brooks is just one gassy bird in the barn. I've got a stack of editorials here telling me how insane and delusional I am, each more insulting to my intelligence than the next.

My favorite owl pellet comes from Alexandra Schwartz, writing for the New Yorker, who claimed Bernie's incessant talk of Wall Street fuckery is somehow outdated: "When [Sanders's] campaign tweets that it's 'high time we stopped bailing out Wall Street and started repairing Main Street,' you have to wonder," writes Schwartz, obtusely, "why his youngest supporters, so attuned to staleness in all things cultural, are letting him get away with political rhetoric that would have seemed old even in 2012."

What a charmed life Alexandra Schwartz must lead to think that the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression should resolve itself according to the needs of the news cycle. But believe it or not, the poors have not yet moved on from being gobsmacked by a globally devastating market collapse. Freedom from the burdens of financial ruin is a privilege I imagine millions of Americans wish they could share with New Yorker staff writer Alexandra Schwartz.

And what did the great tawny-bellied Paul Krugman have to say to the nation's waywardly progressive? "Sorry," he pecked in his Times column. "There's nothing noble about seeing your values defeated because you preferred happy dreams to hard thinking about means and ends." Pausing to cough up a mouse carcass, he chittered on: "Don't let idealism veer into destructive self-indulgence."

I'm trying to imagine an eighteenth-century Krugman admonishing a young Thomas Jefferson against letting his happy dreams of liberty veer into self-indulgence. For good reason, American historians seem unimpressed by owls counseling restraint in the face of corruption and oppression.

If anything concerns me at this pivotal moment, it's not the revolutionary tremors of the youth. Given the Great American Trash Fire we have inherited, this rebellion strikes me as exceedingly reasonable. Pick a crisis, America: Child poverty? Inexcusable. Medical debt? Immoral. For-profit prison? Medieval. Climate change? Apocalyptic. The Middle East is our Vietnam. Flint, the canary in our coal mine. Tamir Rice, our martyred saint. This place is a mess. We're due for a hard rain.

If I am alarmed, it is by the profound languor of the comfortable. What fresh hell must we find ourselves in before those who've appointed themselves to lead our thoughts admit that we are in flames? As I see it, to counsel realism when the reality is fucked is to counsel an adherence to fuckery. Under conditions as distressing as these, acquiescence is absurd. When your nation gets classified as a Class D structure fire, I believe the only wise course is to lose your shit.

The reason Wall Street is dropping zillions of quarters into Hillary's Super PAC-Man machine isn't because it wants change — it's because Wall Street sees revenue in her promises of keeping things much the same. Under Hillary, our prisons will continue to punish for profit. Our schools will continue to be sold off to private contractors. And despite 87 percent of Democrats standing behind universal health care, Hillary insists it will "never, ever come to pass." Not from her, I guess, since she's taken over $13 million from the health care industry.

We really can't, America, says Hillary. Nope. Not ever. We are a powerful nation, kids, but one run by the Great Market God. Leave your moral gag reflex at the door. Close that pesky Overton window, won't you? And be a doll and bolt those tables to the floor. You'll love the moneylenders, dear. I do. Hell, my daughter married one!

"Want a selfie?"

No, young heroes, mind not the barnshitting owls. And I insist we take a pass on contracting foxes to assess the holes in our fence. Abandon no hopes, America. We have important work to do. This democracy will not save itself.

"The note of hope is the only note that can help us or save us from falling to the bottom of the heap of evolution," sermonized Father Guthrie, musing on what got him through the Great Depression. "All a human being is, anyway, is just a hoping machine."


Monday, February 08, 2016

Beyoncé Does an Action at Halftime

At yesterday's Super Bowl Beyoncé stole the show with her halftime performance.  The New South Negress carries a piece by zandria that shares the deep meaning of 'Formation', the new song by Beyoncé. Below is an excerpt from that article.

We Slay, Part I
By zandria

The articulation of southern blackness here invites us to theorize black resistance practices. There is the expressive resistance that stands and fights and brandishes guns and stages coups. There is the quiet resistance, the meditative kind that Kevin Quashie talks about. For Ralph Ellison’s protagonist in Invisible Man, it is hibernation, the act of a particular kind of invisibility, that is a “covert preparation for a more overt action.”

Formation, is a different kind of resistance practice, one rooted in the epistemology of (and sometimes only visible/detectable to) folks on the margins of blackness. The political scientist Cathy Cohen talks about activism at these margins, the kind of deviance-as-resistance built and cultivated at the margins of respectable blackness. Formation, then, is a metaphor, a black feminist, black queer, and black queer feminist theory of community organizing and resistance. It is a recognition of one another at the blackness margins–woman, queer, genderqueer, trans, poor, disabled, undocumented, immigrant–before an overt action. For the black southern majorettes, across gender formulations, formation is the alignment, the stillness, the readying, the quiet, before the twerk, the turn-up, the (social) movement. To be successful, there must be coordination, the kind that choreographers and movement leaders do, the kind that black women organizers do in neighborhoods and organizations. To slay the violence of white supremacist heteropatriarchy, we must start, Beyoncé argues, with the proper formation. The proper formation is, she contends, made possible by the participation and leadership of a blackness on the margins. The celebration of the margins–black bodies in motion, women’s voices centered, black queer voices centered–is what ultimately vanquishes the state, represented by a NOPD car. Beyoncé as the conjured every-southern-black-woman, slays atop the car and uses the weight of her body to finish it off, sacrificing herself in the process. Like so, so, so many black folks in the margins in the movement for (all) black (lives matter for) liberation. This formation is brought to you by conjure.

“Formation” is an homage to and recognition of the werk of the “punks, bulldaggers, and welfare queens” in these southern streets and parking lots, in these second lines, in these chocolate cities and neighborhoods, in front of these bands and drumlines. Movements for black liberation are led by black folks at the margins who know we must all get free to sink that car. Folks who know that we must be coordinated, and we must slay. And because I recognize black southern country fence-jumping feminism as a birthright and imperative, I have no tolerance for the uncoordinated–those who cannot dance and move for black queer liberation, black trans liberation, black women’s liberation, at all intersections.

Southern blackness is back, as Messy Mya said, by popular demand. But if you magic, you know we was always here, slaying, which is what we came to do. Ready? Okay.

Odds & Ends

  • For the past week I've been gathering articles and other information for the next edition of the Global Network newsletter called Space Alert!.  This morning I sent the whole bunch to the person we pay to lay the paper out.  I should have the proofs back by the end of the week.  It's always a daunting challenge at first to sort through the volumes of potential material.  My favorite section of the paper is the two-page spread we call 'Odds & Ends' which are bits of items from around the world.  Going through an article to extract just enough to pass on the important info to the reader is both a challenge and fun at the same time.
  • My talk at the Brunswick, Maine library yesterday drew 34 folks.  It was my first ever PowerPoint presentation and it seemed to come across well.  People liked seeing the images of US bases and the resistance against those bases in Sicily, England, Jeju Island and Okinawa that I reported on. 
  • The Lenten vigils at Bath Iron Works here in town begins this Ash Wednesday with an 11:30 am peace witness on Washington Street in front of the BIW administration building.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reports on the latest North Korean satellite launch.  The US, Japan and South Korea screamed bloody murder about the launch insisting it was a nuclear missile delivery test in disguise.  (By the way since when it is illegal to launch a satellite into space?  The US has several thousand of them in orbit.)  The UCS maintains that "North Korea has not flight tested a ballistic missile version of the Unha or a reentry heat shield that would be needed to protect the warhead as it reentered the atmosphere. Because of its large size, such a missile is unlikely to be mobile, and assembling and fueling it at the launch site would be difficult to hide. Its accuracy would likely be many kilometers."  So in other words the US-Japan-South Korea military alliance are fabricating their outrage in order to justify further Pentagon deployments of 'missile defense' systems called THAAD (Theatre High Altitude Area Defense) systems in South Korea that will actually be aimed at China.  Got to watch both hands as the deception of the magician in Washington is quite subtle.
  • A warning was sounded today in Tass.  They report on Russian reaction to the US development of hypersonic space planes (super drones) that can serve many functions including space-based surveillance, anti-satellite weapon, attack vehicle firing weapons to earth from orbit, or themselves dropping to Earth to deliver a first-strike attack.  From Tass:  

Russia is concerned over the ever more realistic prospect of attack weapons being deployed in outer space, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told TASS in an interview.

"We are alarmed over the ever more real prospect of attack weapons being deployed in outer space," he said. "This is not identical to the militarization of space. I would like to draw a certain line here. Many countries have long used space and are still using it for intelligence and communication and for keeping an eye on what is happening in various parts of the world."

"We say it will be impermissible to deploy attack weapons in outer space. In other words, of weapons that might be used for attacking space objects of other countries or for attacking targets on the Earth from space," Ryabkov said. "Technologies are developing and such a possibility is getting ever more real."

Ryabkov voiced the certainty that an obstruction to this should be put up before it is too late.

"In a situation where there is no such restriction it is extremely hard to consider further nuclear arms reductions. They have played the central role from the standpoint of deterring any potential aggressor and still play this role today," he said.

Our Earth

Fingers on the Trigger

I've tried
to figure out
what makes
these cats
in the Pentagon
the CIA
and Boering
really tick....

The folks
back home
are confused
many flat out
given up
ready to climb
into a hole
and pull the dirt
in on top
of themselves

Do the war boys
really want to
end it all?
Are they that crazy?
What about their
own kids?

It's hard
to keep pushin
the rock
but the
is not so

The dream
the house
upon the hill
seems not so
the crazy cats
got their
on the

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Ukraine – Masks of Revolution

The film is a special investigation carried out by Paul Moreira, which covers the events in Ukraine in 2014, particularly the far-right Neo-Nazi groups backed by the US, as well as the deadly violence in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa.

The film recently aired on French premium pay television called Canal Plus.  The US puppet regime in Kiev protested and unsuccessfully attempted to halt the airing of the program.  

Squeezing Mexico

In the second installment of this two-part episode, Abby Martin continues her investigation of the hidden war on the U.S.-Mexico border, looking at the root causes of the epidemic of migrant deaths. The Empire Files documents an inflated, paramilitary Border Patrol, the devastating impacts of NAFTA, how the U.S. Empire benefits from immigrant labor and what can change the equation.

Featuring interviews with Todd Miller, author of 'Border Patrol Nation', and Araceli Rodriguez, mother of Jose Antonio, a 16-year-old boy murdered by Border Patrol.

Sunday Song