Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Friday, November 30, 2018

Charity and tolerance

In 1959, Bertrand Russell, the Nobel Prize-winning philosopher, mathematician and peace activist was just short of his 87th birthday, when he gave wide-ranging interviews to the BBC and the CBC.

In this video Russell shares life lessons — lessons about critical thinking, love and tolerance — to a generation living 1,000 years in the future.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Flirting with fascism: America's New Path?

CBC radio:

We've heard it so much that it's almost become a cliché: America is on the road to fascism. The debate over that claim continues, but renowned scholar Henry Giroux argues that "Donald Trump is not just some impulsive rich guy who marketed his way into politics through empty Kardashian-style consumer culture". Trump needed followers. And he got them. Now what?

Fascism looks different in different cultures, depending on that culture. In fact, it is the essence of fascism to have no single, fixed form - Henry Giroux

While academics and historians argue whether America is becoming a fascist state, Henry Giroux believes the evidence is mounting that it is. Giroux holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest. And he argues that a "savage capitalism" has moved America from a landscape of certainty to a fog of precarity.  Politically, this movement creates a kind of rootlessness, and as thinkers like Eric Fromm and Hannah Arendt remind us, rootlessness can create the foundations of totalitarianism.

Giroux points to other indicators of America's flirtation with fascism, like the increase in racist language entering the public sphere. In his book American Nightmare, Giroux includes this quotation from public intellectual Ta-Nehisi Coates: "Not every Trump voter is a white supremacist, but every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one."

Giroux argues that one only needs to look at Trump's comments about the "Central Park Five" long before he became president. In the 1989 case, a group of black and Latino youths were charged with the rape of a white woman in Central Park. Donald Trump spent $85,000 dollars on newspaper ads calling for the return of the death penalty. Eventually, the members of the Central Park Five were exonerated by DNA testing, and a serial rapist confessed to the crime. When the teenagers received compensation from the state for their wrongful conviction, Donald Trump called their exoneration "outrageous".

While Henry Giroux applauds the work of some journalists at the New York Times and The Washington Post, he notes that enough work has not been done: "During Donald Trump's inaugural speech, Fox News commentators called it, 'muscular', 'unifying' and 'just masterful'. The fog of self-delusion was in full swing at CNN when historian Douglas Brinkley described Trump's inaugural address as 'presidential' and the 'best speech he has ever made.' Former conservative radio talk show host Charles Sykes argues that over the last few decades, right-wing media have played a major role in discrediting and delegitimizing the fact-based media".

Giroux thinks some academics simply are not willing to describe conditions in America as "fascist".  It's often been said that Trump isn't Hitler — "Of course he isn't," says Giroux, "but fascism looks different in different cultures, depending on that culture. In fact, it is the essence of fascism to have no single, fixed form."

He leaves us with the words of Adam Gopnik: "Fascism takes on the colours and textures of the nation it infects. In Italy, it is bombastic and neo-classical. In Spain, it is Catholic and religious. In Germany, it is violent and romantic. In England, it's form was paternalistic and aristocratic, through Oswald Mosley.  So, it's no surprise that the American face of fascism would take on the form of celebrity television."

Henry Giroux is the author of "American Nightmare: Facing the Challenges of Fascism"

Digging trenches in Ukraine under martial law

What a joke....

If Ukraine and Russia get in a war (with US-NATO likely jumping in) these trenches (in part dug by kids they grabbed from a local orphanage for this public relations stunt) are not going to help very much.

Nothing like pushing fear of war to make Porky Poroshenko look better to the electorate in Ukraine - especially when he is under 8% in the polls.  In the video you see that when he went out to 'reassure the people' they wanted to know about their pensions.  Porky claimed he has nothing to do with pensions....

The quote I love is the woman working in the outdoor market who says there is no panic buying because "People don't have the money to buy anything." boom!

God help us.....!


Balsonaro blues.....

While I was in Russia in late October I attended a conference in Moscow of the Union of Ukrainian Refugees and Political Prisoners.  The weekend event was attended by activists and journalists from places like Brazil, Germany, England, Lugansk in the Donbass, and Russia.

One other American who attended was a young guy who went to Russia originally to teach English.  He is now working for RT in Moscow and spoke quite well at the conference.  He was critiquing the US 'progressive movement' and offering suggestions.  I was impressed with him.

The three men who came from Brazil were wonderful folks - one of them had once been an orchestral director and was constantly singing and waving his arms.  They are all terrified about the future of their nation after the last couple years of corporate directed coup that threw out progressive leadership.

The newly elected Jail Bolsonaro's (above photo) first official statement was "We cannot continue to flirt with socialism, communism, populism and extremism of the Left."  Bolsonaro was a military officer who worked with field artillery and parachutist units.  His job is now to be the heavy duty hit man. Big money is at stake.

The unit of measure anywhere these days is resource extraction - how much can Wall Street make if they control the Brazillian government?  It's like the good old days of Chiquita brands in Central America where they ran the show and put a banana in billions of homes around the world.

Brazil today produces oranges for Minute Maid orange juice - the company owned by Coca Cola Corp. based in Atlanta, Georgia where free elections are still not allowed.

Brazil also happens to inhabit the Amazon forest.  National Geographic reports:
[Balsonaro] wants to carve more mines and pave new roads. He wants fewer penalties for cutting down trees, and he has promised to halt growth of a network of indigenous forest reserves. By merging the nation's agriculture and environment ministries, he hopes to make it easier for Brazil's powerful soy and cattle industries to transform more native jungle into pasture and farms.

"We are already in a very critical situation in terms of climate change," says Adriane Esquivel-Muelbert, a native Brazilian who studies tropical forests at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. She's the lead author on a study published this month showing that the mix of tree species across the forest is already shifting in response to rising temperatures.
"If we mess up with the Amazon, carbon dioxide emissions will increase so massively that everyone will suffer," she adds.

Bolsonaro's brand of fascism (defined by Mussolini as the wedding of corporations and government) is not wasting anytime.  The new 'Trump from South America' is turning loose the dogs on the opposition.

It has been reported by Rodrigo Castriota, in Brazil: "More than 20 Brazilian universities were invaded by police in the past days.  They confiscated material on the history of fascism, interrupted classes due to 'ideological content', removed anti-fascist banners and posters claiming that it was electoral propaganda."

This is how it goes on modern corporate Earth.  Reminds me of Central America in the 1980's when the US ransacked the region and put death squads into power.  Washington is doing the same thing today in Ukraine, Brazil, and beyond.  No wonder thousands are fleeing Honduras toward the US as they try to hold Washington accountable for its crimes in 2009 when Hillary Clinton - as secretary of state at the time - pushed for new elections, rather than the return of  President Manuel Zelaya, whom she considered a leftist troublemaker in the mold of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez.
In office Zelaya oversaw modest economic and social reforms. He introduced a minimum wage, gave away energy-saving light bulbs, and pledged to finally resolve longstanding land conflicts between peasant farmers and agribusinesses.

In June 2009, Zelaya called a referendum to decide whether an extra vote should take place in November – alongside the general election – to reform the constitution. If approved, the reform would have allowed presidents to stand again for re-election.

Two days before the vote, the army refused to deliver the ballot boxes. Zelaya tried to push on with the vote, but on the night of 28 June he was forced – still in his pajamas – on to a military plane and taken to Costa Rica. Zelaya was replaced with a brutal dictator who has been erasing his opposition.

Corporate globalization means Wall Street has no love for country - only total domination.  Wealth and resource extraction is the primary goal - accomplished at any cost to human or environment.  It's neo-feudalism - fascism - authoritarianism - evil.  Global slavery is their goal.

We must expand the internationalization of our resistance movements.  Last weekend's international conference in Dublin, Ireland of the Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases is a great example of this kind of needed organizing.  (I'll do a report on the conference which I was unable to attend soon here on the blog.)

It's not just about changing the leaders in our capitals anymore -  we've got to figure out a global strategy to take down corporate power.


Comparing real leadership with political bloviation

Hillary Clinton recently made some very controversial immigration statements to the Guardian newspaper in England.

Listen to how the UK's Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn approaches the issue.

Jimmy Dore does a good job showing this contrast of two political leaders - Hillary or Jeremy Corbyn?

I'll take Corbyn any day!  He has long been an active leader in UK's peace movement and his words in this video reveal that he has not abandoned those deep concerns.  Corbyn is a real leader.

Hillary?  She is a political hack and a bloviator.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a Space Force Sellout

By Will Griffin

Neil deGrasse Tyson has been on every mainstream media outlet this year promoting the idea of a Space Force. Along with supporting President Trump’s idea of forming a new military branch, which would cost taxpayers billions of dollars, Neil also promotes the myth of how military spending is required to increase spending in science. Studies have shown that we do not need to bulk up the military in order to further the advancement of science in the civilian sector. So what’s up with that Neil?

Neil deGrasse Tyson has ties to the U.S. government and corporations which he never mentions on mainstream media, so I expose those connections here. Indeed, promoting the military like Neil has been doing all year is the very definition of

MILITARISM: holding military ideals up to every standard, every decision, and every solution. We need to stop believing that every solution comes with a bigger military budget. Shame on Neil for doing this, he’s smarter than that!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

BIW Advent vigils

Please join us as we hold a light in the darkness at the Advent Vigil for Disarmament at Bath Iron Works.  We will gather across from the BIW Administration building on Washington Street in Bath from 11:30 am till 12:30 on the four Saturdays of Advent, December 1, 8, 15, 22.

We stand with signs calling for the end of the building of weapons of mass destruction by General Dynamics in Maine.  We stand in opposition to the production of the Arleigh Burke class of Aegis destroyers and the new Zumwalt stealth destroyers which will cost well over $4 billion each.

It is time to end the construction of these warships and to begin the transformation to a nonviolent society by using our resources to create life affirming alternatives to our present war-based economy.

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

Smilin’ Trees Disarmament Farm
Hope, Maine

Monday, November 26, 2018

Was there an ideological contamination from the Nazis?

I first learned about Operation Paperclip and the Nazi scientists creating the US space program when I read the book Secret Agenda by former CNN investigative reporter Linda Hunt. The book told in detail how 1,500 top Nazi scientists, engineers and intelligence opeatives were smuggled into the U.S. through Boston and West Palm Beach, Florida. One hundred of them, along with 100 copies of Hitler's V-2 rocket, were brought to Huntsville, Alabama to create the U.S. space program. Wernher von Braun, the lead scientist of Hitler's team that built the V-1 and V-2 rockets was made the first director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

In Germany the Nazis had a concentration camp called Dora where 40,000 Jews, French resistance fighters, homosexuals, communists and other prisoners of war (including a black American GI) were brought to build the V-1 and V-2 inside a mountain tunnel called Mittelwerk. By the time the slaves were liberated by the allies, over 25,000 had perished at the hands of the Nazi rocketeers.

Hitler's military liason to von Braun's rocket team was Maj. Gen. Walter Dornberger. Several times Dornberger and von Braun met with Hitler requesting more money and more slaves so they could step up the rocket production effort. Hitler was anxious to use the rockets to terrorize European cities like London, Paris and Brussels toward the end of the war as the Nazi army began to lose. Dornberger and von Braun showed Hitler films of the V-2 rocket launches to prove they were making significant progress.

Dornberger came to the U.S. along with von Braun's rocket team during Operation Paperclip. According to author Jack Manno in his book Arming the Heavens: The Hidden Military Agenda for Space, 1945-1995, Dornberger was appointed as a vice-president at Bell Aviation Corporation in New York and served on the first 'military oversight committee' that ensured that NASA was controlled by the Pentagon from the first days. It was Dornberger who first came up with the idea of 'missile defense' as an offensive program that would have nuclear powered satellites orbiting the planet and able to hit targets on Earth.

Kurt Debus, the chief of V-2 launch operations in Hitler's Germany, later became Chief of Operations for NASA at Cape Canaveral. When tourists converge on the Kennedy Space Center they will pass by a portrait of the former German SS member that hangs in the entrance in honor of Debus's service as the center's first director.

In a book called The Hunt for Zero Point, respected military journalist Nick Cook talks much about the "black" (the Pentagon's secret) budget. For 15 years Cook had been a defense and aerospace writer for Jane's Defence Weekly, which some consider the bible of the international weapons community. Cook spent 10 years researching secret military programs in the U.S. and believed that well over $40 billion a year is spent on these programs outside the purview of Congress. Cook states, "It [black programs] has a vast and sprawling architecture funded by tens of billion of classified dollars every year. The height of its powers was probably in the Reagan era. But it has not stopped since then. In fact, under the Bush administration it [had] something of a resurgence. Stealth technology is a primary example...research into anti-gravity technology...has been going on for quite some time."

Cook traced the roots of the U.S.'s secret programs back to the Nazi scientists brought to the U.S. after WW II in Operation Paperclip. He states, "We know the size and scope of Operation Paperclip, which was huge. And we know that the U.S. operates a very deeply secret defense architecture for secret weapons is highly compartmentalized...and one of the things that's intrigued me over the years is, How did they develop it? What model did they base it on? It is remarkably similar to the system that was operated by the Germans - specifically the SS - for their top-secret weapons programs."

"What I do mean," says Cook, "is that if you follow the trail of Nazi scientists and engineers who were recruited by America at the end of the second world war, the unfortunate corollary is that by taking on the science, you take on - unwittingly - some of the ideology...What do you lose along the way?"

Could this be what former President Dwight Eisenhower was talking about just a few years later when in 1961 he warned the American people to 'beware' of the power of the military industrial complex? Could Eisenhower's prophetic warning been that an ideological contamination had come from America's embracing of the Nazi operatives?


The Saker: About the latest Ukronazi provocation in the Kerch strait

By The Saker

First, here is a pretty good summary of what has taken place (including videos) posted by RT:
I will just add that at the time of writing (07:38 UTC) the cargo ship blocking the passage under the bridge has been removed, traffic has resumed and the situation has returned to normal.

Second, let me give you the single most important element to understand what is (and what is not) taking place: the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea are, in military terms, “Russian lakes”.  That means that Russia has the means to destroy any and all ships (or aircraft) over these two seas: on the Black Sea the life expectancy of any intruder would be measured in minutes, on the Sea of Azov in seconds.  Let me repeat here that any and all ships deployed in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov are detected and tracked by Russia and they can all easily be destroyed.  The Russians know that, the Ukrainians know that and, of course, the Empire knows that.  Again, keep that in mind when trying to make sense of what happened.

Third, whether the waters in which the incident happened belong to Russia or not is entirely irrelevant.  Everybody knows that Russia considers these waters are belonging to her and those disagreeing with this have plenty of options to express their disagreement and challenge the legality of the Russian position.  Trying to break through waters Russia considers her own with several armed military vessels is simply irresponsible and, frankly, plain stupid (especially considering point #2 above).  That is simply not how civilized nations behave (and there are plenty of contested waters on our planet).

Fourth, one should not be too quick in dismissing Poroshenko’s latest plan to introduce martial law for the next 60 days.  Albeit Poroshenko himself declared that this mobilization does not mean that the Ukronazi regime wants war with Russia, the fact is that the first-line reserves will be mobilized.  This is important because the situation resulting from the introduction to martial law could be used to covertly increase the number of soldiers available for an attack on Novorussia or, God forbid, Russia herself.  In fact, Poroshenko also officially appealed to the veterans of the war against Novorussia to be ready for deployment.

Fifth, while there are all sorts of caveats offered by the Ukronazi regime about the introduction of the martial law, including that it will not mean war or infringe on the right of the people, the truth is very different.  Here is what a memo by the Unian agency says about what martial law means in legal terms: (emphasis added)

Martial law is a special legal regime that is introduced in Ukraine or its individual areas in the event of armed aggression or threat of attack, a threat to Ukraine’s state independence, its territorial integrity, and gives authorities, the military command and local self-government the powers that are necessary to prevent threats and ensure national security. It also foresees temporary threat-related limitations on constitutional rights and freedoms of a person and a citizen and the rights and legal interests of legal entities, indicating the duration of such restrictions (Article 1 of the Law on the Legal Regime of Martial Law).
Considering the current single-digit popularity rating of Poroshenko and the fact that he has no chance in hell to be re-elected (at least not in minimally credible elections) it is pretty darn obvious of why the Ukronazi regime in Kiev decided to trigger yet another crisis and then blame Russia for it.  The very last thing Russia needs is yet another crisis, especially not before a possible Putin-Trump meeting at the G20 Buenos Aires summit later this month.  In fact, Ukrainian bloggers immediately saw this latest provocation as an attempt to scrap upcoming elections.

So what’s next?

Well, the most likely options is just one more Ukie bawling about the “Russian aggression” with the hope that this will a) raise the value of the Poroshenko regime in the eyes of the Empire and b) disrupt the planned Trump-Putin meeting.

I am not so sure that Poroshenko will be given the option to simply cancel the elections.  Yes, he cannot win, but the Empire can replace him.  Not only that, but outright canceling the elections would be a PR disaster (but one which is sometimes chosen by the Empire’s “sons of bitches” like, say, Mahmoud Abbas).  Still there is also a very good chance that the Ukronazis regime feeling that it has nothing to lose would take such an unprecedented step.

Some kind of limited Ukronazi military operations against Russia, Novorussia, Crimea or the Kerch bridge would be militarily suicidal but political very profitable as it would allow Poroshenko to a) blame Russia for all the Ukrainian problems and b) demand even more aid to “resist against the Russian aggression”.  The problem with that option is that there are good signs that a lot of the Ukrainian military personnel does not have the courage to actually fight the Russians (for ex: look how ALL the Ukie soldiers folded in Crimea; also, the blog of “Colonel Cassad” reports that of the three ships which tried to breach the Russian border, at least one had a captain who voluntarily surrendered his ship to the Russians; finally, one Ukrainian sailor has apparently been shot for refusing to open fire against the Russians).  It is worth mentioning that on Sunday the Urkonazis sent a few more ships obviously to aid the ships intercepted by the Russians, but as soon as the Russians closed the passage and Russian Su-25s and Ka-52 appeared in the skies, they quickly stopped and eventually left the scene.  Did they do that under order or because they did not want to die?  We will never find out I suppose.

Finally, there is the very real possibility of a full-scale war against Russia.  Yes, the Ukronazis would last just a couple of days, but keep in mind that their goal will not be to win, but to force Russia into an overt military operation which the entire “collective West” will have to condemn like what happened with the Georgian attack in 08.08.08. (you know, in the name of “solidarity” like during the Skripal false flag).  As for the leaders of the Anglo-Zionist Empire, they will gladly fight Russia down to the very last Ukrainian solider, we all understand that.

Finally, let me address those who might think that Russia somehow over-reacted or should not have used force.  First, let me remind you that we are talking about armed and military vessels, not fishing boats.  Second, the Ukronazis have been daydreaming about bringing this bridge down even before it was built.  So how where the Russians to know that these ships were not packed with explosives?  Third, let me remind you that a few months ago the Ukronazis did send a few tiny military vessels under the bridge.  That first time, they did ask for permission and even had a Russian pilot on board helping them to cross the narrow passage.  Yet the regime in Kiev presented that a major “victory” against the Moskal’s.  This time around tried to sneak by without asking.  If the Russians had left them pass, what do you think they would have done the next time?

The truth is that the Ukronazi regime has been claiming for years now that it is at war against Russia, that Russia has invaded the Ukraine, that all those who oppose the regime or speak even the basic truth are “agents of the Kremlin/FSB.  The funny thing is not just that this is the first time in Russian history that Russia is accused of waging a war which shes does not even participate in – it is even more hilarious that the Ukronazis claim to be at war with Russia but have a hissy fit when three of their (tiny) ships are arrested for violating the Russian border.  Is there a war going on or not?!  What the hell were they thinking when they tried to force their way through?!

[Sidebar: there is even a joke about this going around: Ukrainian military personnel are asked why they are fighting in the Donbass.  They reply “because the Russians are there”.  Then they are asked why they are *not* fighting in Crimea and they reply “because the Russians are truly there!!”.  Bottom line: everybody knows full well that this is bull and that there are no Russian forces in Novorussia]
How do you prove that the other guy is an “aggressor state”?  Simple – by forcing him to attack you.  Considering the “selective blindness” of the collective West, the fact that you hit the other guy first makes absolutely no difference whatsoever (again, see 08.08.08).

It is obvious that the Nazi regime in Kiev is in a tailspin and that short of some dramatic action Poroshenko is a goner.  Most of the gang around him won’t fare much better, especially not if Timoshenko ever gets the presidency (which might happen if the Empire decides to ditch Poroshenko).  For them the options are either to leave the Ukraine or face some serious jail time (sort of the same situation as Saakashvili [former President of Georgia and US puppet] had to face).

We are entering a very dangerous time period, one in which a totally corrupt Nazi regime will fight with every trick imaginable to save itself.  Whether this will result in a major war against Novorussia or Russia is impossible to predict, but we have to recognize that this is a distinct possibility.

The Saker

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Now they are coming for your Social Security......

Sunday song

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Remembrance Day in London

On the 100th anniversary of the end of the 1st World War, Veterans for Peace bring together English, German, French, American and Israeli veterans at the Cenotaph under the banner "NEVER AGAIN".

US Leads, But No One Follows

Lost in the Memory Palace:
US Leads, But No One Follows

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

You would hardly know it from reading the U.S. press, but a summit of considerable significance took place late last month. German, French, Russian, and Turkish leaders convened in Istanbul Oct. 27 to create a comprehensive plan to end the seven-year war in Syria. On the agenda: increase humanitarian aid, rebuild ruined towns and cities, assist returning refugees, draft a new constitution and arrange internationally supervised elections. All this will take time, but the Syria story is evolving from one of conflict to one of reconciliation and reconstruction.

Two features of the summit deserve special note.

The four nations are not all fast friends, to put it mildly. But they drew together to find common interests in resolving what may count as the worst crisis since the Cold War’s end. Second, there was a conspicuous absence at the Istanbul gathering: the United States. Despite its prominent role in the Syrian conflict for at least the past six years, if not longer, the United States wanted no part of a many-sided summit dedicated to resolving it via negotiation.

A matter of days later came the Trump administration’s sweeping new sanctions against Iran, planned for many months and put into force at midnight on Nov. 4.

Never mind Washington’s adversaries: Even its traditional allies in Europe are resisting the United States.  This new round of sanctions rank among the stupidest foreign policy moves of Trump’s two years in office. Two others were withdrawing from the climate pact in June 2017 and  unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital six months later.

Three Things Now Clear

At this point, three things are clear about the Trump administration’s approach to global affairs.

No. 1: Team Trump’s foreign policies are easily the most incoherent of any administration in recent memory. The United States does or does not want to settle the Korean question. It does or does not have an even-handed plan for peace in the Mideast. It has or has not abandoned its campaign to depose the Assad government in Damascus. What appears so on Monday appears otherwise by midweek.

No 2: Time and again, this administration overplays its hand. In case after case it acts on its own, expecting other nations to follow, only to discover that few or none do. Since Trump took office, misjudging U.S. prerogatives may be among the only consistent feature of his foreign policy.

No. 3: “America First” begins to shape up as “America Last” on the foreign policy side. We are a long way from “the indispensable nation,” the phrase that Madeleine Albright used for the United States during her time as secretary of state in the Clinton administration.  Two years into Trump’s presidency, Albright’s assertion—which was never more than U.S. hubris at its purest—looks like it might be headed to a museum.

This is not solely due to incompetence in the Trump White House, although this is considerable. The United States has been unable to find its place in a swiftly changing world order at least since the George W. Bush administration. It has consistently mishandled relations with China and Russia from one administration to the next, to take two prominent examples: trans–Atlantic ties with longtime allies (who too often behave like vassals) have deteriorated steadily for years due to Washington’s misjudgments.

The Trump administration’s confusion merely makes the gravity of our moment more difficult to deny: Absent last century’s simplicities—chief among them the binary East-West division—the United States is losing its grip on leading.  

Talk of Withdrawal

There is much talk in Washington these days of a U.S. withdrawal from global affairs. Ivo Daalder, a former ambassador to NATO and now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, recently co-authored a book, with James Lindsay, called “The Empty Throne: America’s Abdication of Global Leadership.” It is a long lament about what its title suggests: the United States is surrendering—supposedly—its position as No. 1 among nations.

This is a misreading, perfectly upside down from reality. The United States is not surrendering anything. That is precisely the problem. It refuses to give up its long-asserted right to act unilaterally on the assumption other nations will either fall in line or silently acquiesce.

At the same time, Washington declines to participate in multilateral efforts to resolve wars, competing political or territorial claims, and other such problems via diplomatic negotiation, often with adversaries. This helps explain why the Trump administration repudiated the Paris climate pact and then the accord governing Iran’s nuclear programs: Both implicitly demonstrate that multipolarity is an inevitable 21st Century reality.

Daalder acknowledged this during a recent talk at the Council on Foreign Relations, even if he seemed not to have grasped his own lesson. “As the U.S. withdraws,” he said, “it’s not involved in building coalitions bringing people together to deal with global challenges, people are going to turn to others.”

The Istanbul summit on Syria is an excellent case in point. The United States should have been there. South Korea is another. While President Moon Jae-in has to manage Seoul’s traditional ties to Washington delicately, he has unmistakably seized the lead in Northeast Asia and repeatedly signals that he remains committed to a settlement with the North—ultimately with or without U.S. cooperation.

Nostalgia is part of the problem. The world turns, and Washington is lost in a kind of memory palace, where it nurses the desire to prolong those decades of unchallenged primacy that it enjoyed after World War II. It refuses to accept there is no turning back the clock. While it wants to play “follow the leader” other nations drop out of the game.

Vigorous, nearly universal opposition to the new sanctions against Iran, Seoul’s determination to press on toward peace on the Korean Peninsula, the summit on Syria in Istanbul: They all make the same point. Washington must abandon its Wilsonian ambition to shape the world in its own image if it is to remain an effective power—as it can and should—in the new global order. The new Iran sanctions already appear to be a turning point in this respect: Donald Trump’s Washington thought it could lead, but virtually no one is following.

There is no “abdication” and no new isolationist era in the offing. But until the U.S. accepts the new norms of statecraft in a world of rising powers, we will watch as other nations withdraw from America—a very different thing.

~ Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author, and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century (Yale). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is

Friday, November 23, 2018

Latest edition of Space Alert!

Our latest edition of Space Alert! is now at the printer and should be in the mail soon.

If you are not on our mailing list and want a copy sent to you in the post just drop us a line with your street address at and we will send you one.

We are also happy to send you multiple copies in the mail to share with others.  All we ask is a donation of your choosing to help cover the postage.

You can also see the newsletter online at our web site here


Stop the war in Yemen!

As many as 85,000 children have starved to death in Yemen, according to Save the Children with the charity warning that up to 14 million people are at risk of famine if a ruinous war does not end soon.

Since 2015, when the fighting first broke out the group has estimated that at least 84,700 children under the age of five may have died from malnutrition. That is the equivalent of every child in Birmingham, Britain’s second biggest city, the group added.

The devastating statistic came as fighting flared in the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, the frontline of the latest battle, where food prices had soared by at least 400 per cent, according to local residents.
Only two hospitals are now working in the port town, both of which are dangerously close to the front line.

“For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it’s entirely preventable,” said Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s Yemen director.

Pentagon Fuels Yemen War

US Air Force tankers have unloaded 95 million pounds of fuel into the gas tanks of jets flying near the Horn of Africa, including Saudi coalition jets conducting bombing raids over Yemen, during more than 12,000 refueling missions since 2015, according to newly released data. reports that as of August 31, US tankers like the KC-135 Stratotanker had dropped off incredible sums of fuel to other aircraft, citing data from US Central Command officials. An unknown — but likely high — number of recipient aircraft have been Saudi coalition jets bombing the Houthi Shia militia forces in Yemen.

Yemen’s Ministry of Education, based in Sanaa, estimates that the Saudi-led coalition has destroyed at least 3,000 schools and partially damaged 1,300 others. Yemen once boasted 9,517 primary schools and 2,811 high schools. Today, the inability to pay teachers and staff combined with the systematic destruction of Yemen’s civilian infrastructure may lead to the shutdown of the country’s remaining schools.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

More Ray on Thanksgiving Day

Solidarity from Jeju Island

This video gives an update on the resistance to the Navy Fleet Review which was held October 10-14 in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea.

It is particularly directed to the friends around the world who fight against military bases and militarism, especially including those who gathered at the first International Conference against US/NATO Military Bases on November 16-18, at the Liberty Hall in Dublin, Ireland.

No naval base!

Protect the sea life!

No war in the Asia-Pacific!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Will the Dems get real on climate?

Varshini Prakash of the Sunrise Movement talks about why hundreds of activists occupied Nancy Pelosi's offices demanding a Green New Deal and an end to fossil fuel contributions to the Democratic Party.

Good to see these young folks taking action.  Wish they'd figure out the Pentagon impact on climate change too.

See Jimmy Dore's take on this event here


Pentagon fails audit - billion$ missing

The Watson Institute at Brown University (Rhode Island) released its report 'Costs of War,' revealing the astronomical sum of $5.9 trillion and well over 500,000 killed due to the never-ending so-called war on terror.

This new report takes into account not only Department of Defense spending, but spending by the departments of state, veterans affairs and homeland security as well as the cost of interest paid to date on the money the U.S. has borrowed to pay for the wars.

These areas of spending are not included in the Pentagon accounting of war costs, the researchers say, so many of the wars’ budgetary burdens, from the cost of providing medical care and disability payments to veterans to the cost of missions related to preventing and responding to terrorist threats, go unacknowledged in Pentagon estimates.

The report was published on the heels of the news that the Pentagon failed its first and only audit.

“We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told reporters, adding that the findings showed the need for greater discipline in financial matters within the Pentagon.

“It was an audit on a $2.7 trillion dollar organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial,” Shanahan added.

The U.S. war budget for the 2018 fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30 was over $700 billion.

The Pentagon has never been interested in real fiscal oversight - there is virtually none in Washington.  How could we ever forget the pallets of shrink wrapped $100 bills given to commanders to hand out to Iraqi soldiers to get them to sit out the resistance to US occupation?  How many of those US field commanders stuffed the $$$ into duffel bags and carried them back home?  Some reportedly bought new trucks and houses with the hard earned tax dollars of people who were working 2-3 jobs back in the US.  The irony is these thieves are called 'heroes' for their 'service' in Iraq.

The entire war machine is one big criminal enterprise - being run by some of the most corrupt people in the world. Lucky for them they have one hell of an expensive Madison Avenue public relations campaign that keeps the American people fooled by hollow patriotism and a sense of exceptionalism based on distorted history and religious dogma.

We are witnessing the internal collapse of the US empire and the corporate weapons industry response is to create even more wars (Iran next?) and demand unlimited spending on new plans (Space Force) to drive the arms race into the heavens.

We live in a nation where millions of citizens are unhealthy and have been brainwashed to think paranoid and aggressive thoughts.  Most of the world hates our government and wonders why the American people keep so quiet about all the corruption that surrounds us.

I wonder the same thing as well.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Convert BIW - deal with climate change

On Saturday MB and I drove a couple hours north for a meeting of peaceniks from that part of Maine.

We discussed the next 'christening' at Bath Iron Works (BIW) and plans to hold a protest at the shipyard outside of that event.  The date of the next destroyer 'christening' is not yet known.

The theme of the protest will be to covert BIW to sustainable technology development which would allow us to begin to more effectively deal with our greatest problem on Earth today - climate change.

Unless we immediately move away from fossil fuels - particularly making endless war - the future generations don't stand much of a chance to survive.  As it turns out the Pentagon has the largest carbon footprint on the planet.

Brown University (in Rhode Island) has recently done a study that clearly shows how we'd get more jobs if our nation converted the military industrial complex to sustainable production.  See the study here.

Does it not make sense to protect our children and grandchildren?

Please help spread the word about this industrial crisis.  Sign our petition calling for conversion of BIW here.

Remember what the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, "If there is no struggle, there is no progress... Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

What is our demand as we face mass extinction on our Mother Earth?


Monday, November 19, 2018

A Russian view of 'spiritless' America....

Recently the mid-term elections were held in the USA. The bottom line is President Trump strengthened his position in the upper chamber of the American parliament. He gained a majority in the Senate.

It means there will be no impeachment. Trump will remain in office.

But in the lower chamber of the Congress, in the House of Representatives, Trump lost his position. Now, he has a minority there.

Since it is the Congress that determines the country's foreign policy, this means that it will be obviously impossible for Russia to agree on major issues with Trump.

Trump has only a consultative role.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sunday song

Saturday, November 17, 2018

America is addicted to war, violence & chaos

Our real problem these days is climate change. Why are we wasting hundreds of billions of tax dollars each year building weapons for endless war when we could be building rail, offshore wind turbines, tidal power systems, solar power and more?

Each of these types of sustainable technologies creates many more jobs than does military production.  See the Brown University study that reveals these truths here.

Friday, November 16, 2018

First snow of season

We had our first snow of the season here in Bath, Maine last night and continuing into today.  Got about five inches.

It's been our experience since moving to Maine in 2003 that the snow does not usually come until after Thanksgiving (Nov 22) but the last two years it has been different.

Climate change to me means that the weather has become unpredictable and I'd say that is the way things are stacking up here in Maine these days.

Last summer we had the hottest weather in Maine's recorded history.  It often felt like Florida - hot and humid.  I recall the first summer we moved to Maine using a fan only once.  Each summer since has been worse.  Last summer we used fans all the time.

It's always a pleasure (and hard work) to get out and shovel doorways and rake the snow off one part of our roof where two sections of the house meet.

A photo from years past but you can see the second floor porch where two sections of the roof come together.  That is the area that has to be raked or else we get ice dams.

The thought that we will be moving once we sell the house is bitter-sweet.  I will miss the shoveling.  It's always a beautiful thing to go outside right after (or during a snow) and just experience the silence.  Virtually all human outside activity stops.  I cherish those moments.

Likely we will be first moving into an apartment where my shoveling responsibilities won't be very great.  I might have to go out and find someone to help in the neighborhood when future snows come.
The snow is a major reason I wanted to move to Maine.

When I was a kid living in South Dakota for nearly three years I walked to school in blizzards.  I learned to love the hard weather.  It's a beautiful thing.


'Stop talking so much about democracy'

To understand the importance of such subordinate elites, look back to the Cold War's early days when a desperate White House was searching for something, anything that could halt the seemingly unstoppable spread of what Washington saw an anti-American and pro-communist sentiment.

In December 1954, the NSC [National Security Council] met in the White House to stake out a strategy that could tame the powerful nationalist forces of change then sweeping the globe. Across Asia and Africa, a half-dozen European empires that had guaranteed global order for more than a century were giving way to new nations, many--as Washington saw it--susceptible to "communist subversion." In Latin America, there were stirrings of leftist opposition to the region's growing urban poverty and rural landlessness.

To make it "absolutely clear we will not tolerate Communism anywhere in the Western Hemisphere," influential Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey advised his NSC colleagues that they should "stop talking so much about democracy" and instead "support dictatorships of the right if their policies are pro-American." At that moment, Dwight Eisenhower interrupted to observe, with a flash of strategic insight, that Humphrey was, in effect, saying: "They're OK if they're 'our' s.o.b.'s." The secretary agreed, adding: "Whatever we may choose to say in public about ideas and idealism, among ourselves we've got to be a great deal more practical and materialistic."

It was a moment to remember. The president had just articulated, with crystalline clarity, the system of global dominion that Washington would implement for the next fifty years--setting aside democratic principles for a tough realpolitik policy of backing any reliable leader who backed us, building a worldwide network of national (and often nationalist) leaders who would nonetheless put Washington's needs above local ones. To consolidate its dominion, Washington would build a worldwide system of subordinate elites that became nothing less than an Archimedean lever to shift the globe in its direction.

~ Alfred McCoy, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Freezing and broke in Ukraine

Ukraine is on the verge of a utility crisis. Several cities have already declared a state of emergency.

There's no heating in Cherkasy, Khmelnitsky, Dnepropetrovsk, Kirovograd, and Kherson Oblasts.

The situation in Krivoy Rog is critical where more than 2,000 apartment buildings, dozens of schools, kindergartens, and hospitals are literally freezing.

Desperate residents are taking to the streets.  

See also this story:   Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers Indirectly Admitted That There Is No Money to Pay Pensions here

Thank the US and NATO for their 2014 coup d'etat that has turned Ukraine into a failed state where Nazis are flourishing.

I've always seen Ukraine as a bell weather for where the corporate oligarchy in the US is taking us.  Be forewarned.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Okinawa: The island of resistance

Hiroji Yamashiro’s message in this film is profound. And the support by internationals, especially US citizens and veterans for the resistance in Okinawa is a critical component of the struggle for peace.

These are not just words. If the resistance in Okinawa is successful in stopping this US military base construction, and there is a good chance of that, it will be a huge victory for world peace. It will send a signal world-wide that US militarism can be resisted, can be held at bay.

The film will be shown at the International Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases in Dublin, Ireland this coming weekend. You can watch live streaming from the event here

Veterans For Peace activism and our four Peace Team delegations to the island, have made a difference in Okinawa. I wish you all could have been there when Mike Hanes, a former Force Recon Combat Marine who was stationed there, spoke (for all of us) to a wildly enthusiastic crowd of 3,000 Okinawans. VFP has formed a powerful bond of friendship and solidarity with the Okinawa people.

Tarak Kauff
Veterans For Peace
Woodstock, NY

Shame on Bush!

This Veterans Day, post 9/11 veterans members of About Face: Veterans Against the War disrupted a ceremony honoring George and Laura Bush for their "commitment to veterans."  [The award was presented to Bush by former Vice-President Joe Biden.]

The vets held a blockade of one of the entrances, spoke out recounting their experiences to the $1,000 a plate attendees, and made so much noise that during George W. Bush’s speech the sounds of their voices shouting “shame” carried throughout the event space and left the former President visibly shaken.

For more information on how to support:

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Wild thing....another day in the empire

Art by Suzanna Lasker

Wild thing
you make everything
a fucking mess

the whole world
has to be yours,
the arrogance reeks
with suffering
and rage

Day after day
they gather outside
your bases
to shout go home America,
and take your McDonald's
with you

The repression
and devastation
you create with your
cruel exceptionalism
is heart breaking
and must end.

The beast churns on
in Washington
tis all about jobs now

Republicans and Democrats,
both at the feeding trough
inside the dark walls of
the corporate masters

Our #1 job these days?
Promoting 'freedom' via
'security export'

It's another day
in the empire
bought and sold
the religion of

Freedom now!


Protesting the Bush award & Reclaiming Armistice Day

Maine Veterans For Peace at the Veterans Day parade in Portland reminding the public what the day was originally called - Armistice Day

Accountability, History, Identity

By Robert Shetterly
Americans Who Tell the Truth

I begin every talk I give with the creation story of the portrait project --- telling the story of the propaganda, lies, fear, racism, and jingoism that  the George W. Bush administration proclaimed to make the preemptive attack on Iraq seem necessary to the American people. I recite it over  and over because public and legal accountability are absent, the truth has been erased from history. Neither the war makers nor the corporate media wants this truth told. The media shares responsibility for not having questioned the lies, choosing cheer leading for war instead.

Without accountability, textbooks can’t --- or feel  no obligation --- to investigate. That’s not their responsibility.  It would be impossible to tabulate the cost and horror perpetrated of this ongoing  war. The most severe judgment, if any, made in the US press is that the war was a mistake. There is a profound difference between a mistake and a crime. One apologizes  for a mistake. Nazi’s were hung for a similar crime. On Veterans’ Day this year (November 11, 2018) George and Laura Bush were awarded the Liberty Medal for their service to US veterans. In reaction to such an award one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. But there is no doubt about the intention of the award --- to further obscure the truth, to violate history. George Bush betrayed US soldiers  by sending them to kill and die for imperialism. Neither this country nor its Constitution was ever in any danger from Iraqi aggression. [The award was presented to Bush by former Vice-President Joe Biden.]

Recently the Texas board of education decided to remove slavery from its school textbooks. When a story isn’t told, or its truth is altered, it slips from memory, slips from the accumulated identity  people internalize by knowing their common history. As strong as the desire is for all of us to deny the worst we do, if we eradicate the worst, we have no idea who we are. All the social facts, customs, conditions, injustices, ramifications still deriving from that past  are now free-floating, causeless. What, then, is the explanation for lynching, Jim Crow, segregation, racism if slavery never happened? Maybe, then, racism doesn’t exist? What, then, was the reason for the Civil War? Was it really states’ rights? Where did all these African Americans come from and why are they  struggling socially? Must be their fault.

And why is Iraq a failed, decimated, chaotic state? Something in the DNA of Arabs? Muslims? Where did ISIS come from? What’s wrong with these people that they can’t embrace the democratic model so generously offered by the US?  Why is their relationship to oil so unstable compared to the stability of their great neighbor Saudi Arabia? Don’t they know the US sacrificed a lot to rid Iraq of its evil dictator Saddam Hussein, so why don’t they pull themselves together. Out of gratitude.

If we don’t repeat real history, the fabric of history has its most important threads removed.  We keep the threads that tell about symptoms, but discard the ones that explain cause. No one is guilty then; no one caused these things, no one need be held accountable. The symptoms must have spontaneously generated from the flaws of the victims.

By selectively removing the causal threads from the historical fabric, we enable a mythic story to be told. It’s like telling the story of purple without mentioning red and blue. Or telling the story of smoke, but denying fire. Like reporting a story of a multi-car pile up on the freeway, but neglecting the snowstorm.  Who benefits from such selective telling? Perhaps, in the story about smoke, the arsonist gets away. The arsonist gets a medal for treating people for smoke inhalation? Institutions, think tanks --- academic and political --- gather enormous support so they might endlessly discourse on the phenomenon of fireless smoke.  The fabric wears mighty thin.

A story without causation promotes innocence where there is guilt, makes history into a contest of competing advertisements that disguise and replace the truth. The search for identity becomes a trip to the costume shop or the plastic surgeon.  America, like a celebrity, comes strutting down the street. People say, “Hmmm…. Did she have work done? Chin lifted? Teeth whitened? Birthmark removed? I hardly recognize her.”
When the people are gone who remember the truth, the next generation will accept the makeover at face value.

It’s for this reason that Bryan Stevenson opened  the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama this year. It tells the story  of racism in the US from slavery to mass incarceration with a special section as a Lynching Memorial. How would the Texas School Board explain the purpose of this museum? Stevenson’s intent is not simply to say, These were real people, we need to remember them. It  also says that these were real people who risked their lives to make the professed ideals  of this country real for them (and all of us) and they were tortured and murdered for their trouble. They believed in the inherent dignity and rights of their people and were murdered by  other people who insisted that dignity and rights belonged only to them. We all need to know their story or we don’t know who we are. Bryan Stevenson believes it’s only by telling this story that we finally escape being imprisoned by it, that we can transform it into a story of mutual healing because we tell the same story.  Our story.

Slavery doesn’t go away if we deny it. The Iraq War doesn’t become a Noble Cause if we lie about it and give George Bush a medal. We sure as hell don’t know who we are if we refuse to admit the truth. And people who  insist they do no wrong, will continue to commit atrocities and call them good.

I wonder if George and Laura really think they deserve the Liberty Medal? I mean, really? Will it be framed and hung in a special place in the Bush Presidential Library? I guess it should be. The core of the Bush presidency was a lie. The sheer enormity of  the lie deserves a medal. Neither the law nor the corporate media nor religious institutions called them on it. And because they didn’t, the history books won’t. Artesian springs of misery  will endlessly flow from that lie. Americans will continue to claim we are great because we are good. Trump will want to be as good as Bush so he might qualify for the next Liberty Medal. Trump’s lies, although multitudinous, have not yet killed as many people as Bush’s, so he’s got work to do. Meanwhile we are all imprisoned in the tomb of the Unknowable American.  Well, not quite unknowable; other people in the world see through our mask of exceptionalism. That’s OK. We wear it to fool ourselves.  

Monday, November 12, 2018

Recent interview on Wider View

My recent interview with Charles Dunaway for his show Wider View.

Fall in Maine

  • Since coming home from my trip to Russia I've been editing our next Global Network newsletter Space Alert!  It is being designed by Nancy Randolph who does a great job.  When MB and I moved to Maine in 2003 Nancy called me soon after we arrived and said, "You are probably going to need new business cards and stationary."  Right I said and we've hired her ever since to do our newsletter and our annual Keep Space for Peace Week posters.  She's always a pleasure to work with and is very talented.

  • Yesterday it was quite cold with the ground partially frozen.  I figured it was time to bring in the rest of the carrots from the garden so I dug into the half-frozen dirt and removed what was left.  By the time I finished my fingers had nearly froze.  We still have parsley, kale and collard greens in the garden and all of them are still in good shape despite having had a couple of cold nights.

  • Our realtor has brought two different people so far come look at our house that it is up for sale.  We are keeping our fingers crossed.  It would be amazing if it sold rather quickly - before the harsh winter begins.

  • We had a great Non-violence training on Saturday at the Friends Meeting House in Damariscotta.  Eighteen people attended - all of them are on the list of people seriously considering doing civil disobedience at the next 'christening' of a Navy destroyer at Bath Iron Works here in town (date of the ceremony not yet known).  At this moment we have 53 names on the list.  Obviously, depending on the date of the 'christening' not all of them will be able to attend but I'd venture to guess that a high percentage of them will be there.
  • I was listening to the radio this morning (National Public Radio) and the words 'Militarized minds' came to me.  The show was interviewing some musicians who compared an orchestral arrangement on one of their songs as being similar to the military using tanks and rocket launchers to increase their delivery power.  Similarly in baseball I often hear coaches and players talk about a particular player having several 'weapons or bullets' to describe their ability to run, hit, throw, etc - meaning they had many different skills in their tool box.  It reminds me just how much the American mind has been militarized.  Even some entities like the Red Cross or other civilian organizations talk about 'deployment of assets' when they are responding to emergency situations like hurricanes.   I often hear peace activists refer to the Pentagon and the Department of War as being the 'Department of Defense'.  The Pentagon long ago left the realm of 'defense' - its currently all about 'offense'.  We all should think about how much our own language has become militarized.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Nasty NATO in Norway

In October, NATO launched large-scale military drills in Norway involving some 50 thousand troops from 31 countries. Also there hundreds of aircraft, armored vehicles and dozens of ships, but now locals are complaining they've left things in a bit of a mess.

Sunday song

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Army vet goes peacenik & having an impact

Brittany DeBarros is waging the kind of vehement public protest via Twitter against the Defense Department and US government that's commonplace in the Trump-era — except that DeBarros is a captain in the US Army Reserve assigned to the Army's Psychological Operations Command.

See the full story here

Friday, November 09, 2018

Understanding Russian Orthodoxy

Very articulate view on the resurgence of the Orthodox faith in Russia by American Sharon Tennison from the Center for Citizen Initiatives.

She's been leading delegations to Russia since the days of the former Soviet Union.

Video made by Regis Tremblay

Thursday, November 08, 2018

U.S. wants 'No stinkin treaties!'

The US has announced its withdrawal from the historic nuclear arms treaty with Russia. How serious of a setback is this for the two countries’ relations – and global security?

RT talks with Stephen Cohen, contributing editor of The Nation magazine, professor emeritus at Princeton University, and author of the book ‘War with Russia?’

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

What to do the day after America's elections?

 The Washington Post reports this morning:

The deep divisions that have defined American politics in the era of President Trump played out across the country in Tuesday’s midterm elections, as Democrats scored victories in key races in Republican-held suburban House districts but ran into a wall of opposition in red-state Senate contests.

A change in the balance of power in the House would represent a pulling back from the president by key parts of the electorate, particularly by female voters. That alone could have a significant effect on the second half of Trump’s first term, particularly in Washington.

But the overall voting patterns in House, Senate and gubernatorial contests signaled that the differences and divisions that have defined the country during Trump’s presidency remain and seemingly are growing stronger. That sets the stage for a contentious and competitive presidential election two years from now, with the stakes now higher than ever.

The House takeover represents a significant change in the status quo in Washington. But it might end up doing little to affect the overall shape of an America deeply divided over the leadership of the president.

Continuing their long-standing trend of approving requests to borrow money for big needed projects, Maine voters on Tuesday approved all four bond questions on the state ballot. Mainers supported borrowing $200 million for roads, bridges, college campuses and sewer and water system upgrades.  The interest on the bank loans will be saddled on the future generations.

This growing trend of borrowing money by impoverished states across the nation has become necessary because the federal government has continually reduced the amount of funds it offers states and local communities for infrastructure repair, education funding and social programs.

Instead the national treasury increasingly is poured into the Pentagon budget - now at least 54% of every discretionary tax dollar goes into the military coffers.  That leaves little else for states and local communities who have to tie their future to loans from the Wall Street banksters who make huge profits on the interest.

A friend of mine, Pat Elder from Maryland, ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate against Rep. Steny Hoyer - the Democratic Party Whip in the House of Representatives. Pat got 1.3% of the vote while Hoyer (Nancy Pelosi's right-hand man and a big time warmonger) got 70% of the vote.

Pat writes:
I had the opportunity on a few  occasions to publicly advocate for shutting down NATO. Hell, I don’t think most voters know what it is. As I’ve gone door to door in the most impoverished areas 80 miles south of Washington I’ve discovered many are concerned about Russians and Chinese and Koreans attacking and they’re worried about mobs of foreigners rushing the borders and taking their jobs away. Almost all are enthusiastic about increasing military spending. They don’t see the connections. I’ve been laughed at and scorned.  There’s a lot of work to be done educating the American public on matters of war and peace.  

Historian and progressive activist Howard Zinn wrote about elections in 1979.  He said in part:

The multiple choice test is here again. Sure, there are better candidates and worse. But we will go a long way from spectator democ­racy to real democracy when we understand that the future of this coun­try doesn’t depend, mainly, on who is our next president. It depends on whether the American citizen, fed up with high taxes, high prices, unem­ployment, waste, war and corruption, will organize all over the country a clamor for change even greater than the labor uprisings of the ’30s or the Black rebellion of the ’60s and shake this country out of old paths into new ones.

I watched the elections returns on TV long enough to see where the state and national trends were going before heading to bed.  I was struck once again by the long lines of people waiting to vote and the numerous stories about Republican efforts to obstruct voting - particularly in the south to keep blacks and Hispanics from impacting key races in places like Texas, Georgia and Florida.  It appears the obstructionist strategy worked quite well once again.

It's really telling as Washington preaches about freedom and democracy that we witness how millions of people are kept from exercising their constitutional right to vote.  Maybe we need some country to invade the US to liberate the American voters.  How about throwing some economic sanctions on the US until we stop denying people their fundamental right to vote?  You think BBC will cover this story? 

The election analysts say that Democrats were able to recapture the House of Representatives because people (mostly women) in the suburbs across the nation and independents voted for them as a rejection of Trump's divisive politics.  The Republicans continue to own the rural American voter.

Many of the new Democrats who will join the House of Representatives are former US military and CIA personnel.  The Democrats made sure that they selected these types as candidates in order to 'compete' more effectively with the conservatives.  But in the end I can't help but wonder if the newly elected Democrats will eagerly vote to continue our many wars around the world and our steroidal military budget.

How can the Democrats say they want to ensure health care for all, education funding, fix our crumbling infrastructure and at the same time keep feeding the war machine?

I left half of my ballot blank yesterday when I walked to the polls in the rain and did my citizen duty.  Our two local Maine state legislative candidates from Bath (House and Senate) were the women who sponsored the General Dynamics (Bath Iron Works) $60 million tax cut bill that we campaigned against last winter.  While we were able to trim $15 million from it before it passed the state legislature I can't forget that it was these two 'liberal Democrats' that pushed that bad bill that stole from children who go to bed hungry in our state.  I heard a radio ad days ago by one of the women where she took credit for 'helping to fund' the construction of expensive and provocative destroyers at our local shipyard.

There is no doubt in my mind that the real winners in this election cycle are the corporate oligarchies that control the US.  From bond issues that keep Wall Street banks wealthy, to candidates from both parties who pledge support for the military industrial complex, to voters who swallow the fear-mongering from 'our leaders' - the corporate masters have this system under lock and key.

As Howard Zinn would say - what is important now is what the citizens do the day after elections are over.  Today is when the real work of democracy and citizenship begins.  Let it happen now because time is slipping away.