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

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Mainers are not stupid - they know authentic when they see it....



My volunteer work on Lisa Savage's US Senate campaign (a Ranked Choice Voting - RCV race) basically consists of two things.

First, I've been helping to hold banners in various communities across Maine.  So far a statewide team of extraordinary volunteers has visited more than 25 towns.  Some folks have come repeatedly and have developed a good sense of how one location might compare with others.  The response in some communities has been so good that we go back more than once.

My other task is to track Maine donors and send them a bumper sticker and frig magnet.  Along with that I fill orders people have made at the campaign store - buttons, yard signs, and other baubles.

Just like from the bannering experiences, by doing 'merch' I'm witnessing the statewide geographic expansion of Lisa's base of support.

I've heard this from people on the street and via social media:

  • 'I like Lisa - she comes across as real.  I like that she was a teacher for 25 years.'
  • 'RCV allows me for the first time in my voting life to be able to vote my heart & soul....and then rank the corporate 'safe' choice 2nd.'
  • 'I don't trust Gideon.' [the Democrat running for the same US Senate seat]
  • 'Lisa takes stronger and more principled positions on key issues like Medicare4All, Green New Deal and the like.'
  • 'I liked it when Lisa said in the debates that she was the only non-millionaire in the race.'
  • 'I never heard of Lisa before the debates.  She answered questions in a direct way and she also explained things in an easy to understand manner.'
  • 'Thank you for coming so far south to Wells to hold these banners.  I'm going to rank Lisa first.'
  • 'The Collins-Gideon attack ads are everywhere and I just turn them off.'

We believe the corporate-owned media and the polling companies work to downplay the growing strength of independent candidates like Lisa who stand against the ruling oligarchies. This is done to create the impression in the public's mind that 'Lisa can't win, don't waste your vote'.  They often refuse to even mention the existence of RCV in this race.

Maine has long been a resource extraction colony for the elites.  (Timber, fish, farming, minerals, Nestle bottled water - sold as 'Poland Springs' -  and vacation labor for the rich who luxuriate in the beauty and cool of a Maine summer.) Mainers work hard and have little job/retirement security after hundreds of years of 'service to the nation'.  The beaten down working class and growing numbers of poor people here are angry.  They are calling out for help and few are listening.  It's pretty sad when one of the only 'leaders' that 'appears' to speak for them is Donald Trump - who uses white working class anger as a play toy.

The Democrats are possibly even more insidious.  They proclaim love for the unions and other such interests and then ultimately betray the people before the wheels of corporate power.  They first serve Mr. Big and the people come second - or usually last.

And now comes our current climate crisis.  Maine's summers the last couple of years have been the hottest ever recorded.  The Gulf of Maine (historic fishing grounds) is warming faster than 99% of the world’s large bodies of saltwater, scientists say. The rest of the world’s large bodies of saltwater are also warming, although not as fast.  The lobsters are crawling north looking for cooler temperatures.  Lobstering as a way of life is in danger. Whales are also leaving the Gulf of Maine. Both mainline political parties are doing little to actually deal with the climate issue.  They can't - they have already been bought out.

We heard from one volunteer that a 'buzz' was happening across his community about Lisa.  His source is a person deeply involved in local town politics.  A couple of former mayors, from significant Maine cities, are supporting Lisa.  The Maine media is not interested in such trivialities.

The corporate elites and others have poured more than $20 million into the campaign coffers of the Democrat, Sara Gideon.  The current, increasingly unpopular, Republican Senator Susan Collins is not far behind in the money game.  The corporate interests, like in most American elections, are running two horses in every race.

This is what Lisa Savage is facing.  She is speaking for the interests of working, poor and marginalized people.  Just yesterday a request came from a disabled man in Maine for a yard sign.  His caregiver said he couldn't afford to pay for it but we gladly sent it anyway.  

I am proud to be using my free time to help build this campaign which is much bigger than just Lisa Savage.  It is an extension of the kind of political work many of us have been doing our entire adult lives.  We are connecting the dots between the various issues - showing how health care, education, environment and other concerns can't be effectively dealt with as long as we continue to waste 60% of every federal discretionary tax dollar on endless war$ that only benefit Wall Street.

We have one month to go before election day.  Some people will begin early voting by mail very soon. As Hall of Fame baseball player Yogi Berra once said, "You can take 'em to the ball game, but you can't make them go in."  We do our best to reach the people in hopes they will politically come alive and end the corporate colonization of our minds, our planet, and our body politic.

On we go...


Friday, October 02, 2020

Krystal Ball tells the truth.....


Krystal Ball breaks down Joe Biden's debate performance, and how he disavowed certain progressive platforms on live TV.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Sr. Ardeth Platte Presente!


Sr. Ardeth Platte (right) with long time friend and co-organizer Sr. Carol Gilbert


   Ardeth Platte, Dominican nun dedicated to no-nukes cause, dies at 84

(RNS) — Sister Ardeth Platte, a Dominican order nun who fought for nuclear disarmament and later served as an inspiration for a character on the popular Netflix show “Orange Is the New Black,” died in her sleep at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday (Sept. 30).

Platte, 84, who often worked in tandem with her best friend and frequent collaborator, Sister Carol Gilbert, spent years in prison for nonviolent civil disobedience in opposition to nuclear weapons and war.
It was Gilbert who discovered Platte on Wednesday morning. She had apparently been listening to the radio, as she was still wearing headphones when Gilbert found her. Gilbert said Platte had listened to the presidential debate Tuesday night.
In recent years, the duo spent the brunt of their work speaking in support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Gilbert said she had been excited Wednesday morning at the prospect of telling Platte that Malaysia had become the 46th nation to ratify the treaty.
Malaysia’s decision means just four additional ratifications are needed for the landmark disarmament treaty to be brought into force, Gilbert said.
Gilbert said Platte did her final Zoom presentation in support of the treaty on Saturday to the Boston University School of Theology.
“I’m numb,” Gilbert said in a telephone interview. “She was fine yesterday. We did work. I guess you just don’t think death can come that quickly.”
Platte was born in Lansing, Michigan, and began her work for the Dominicans as a teacher. In the 1960s and ’70s, she served as principal and director of alternative education at the former St. Joseph’s Educational Center in Saginaw, Michigan. Her work as an educator impressed many in the community, and Platte was urged to run for the Saginaw City Council. She won, serving as councilwoman from 1973-1985. 

She also served as coordinator of Saginaw’s Home for Peace and Justice for more than a decade.
It was in Michigan that Platte began her anti-nuclear work, and where Gilbert joined her. Later, the pair moved to Baltimore to join the Jonah House resistance community with Elizabeth McAlister and Philip Berrigan.
In 2002, Platte, Gilbert and Sister Jackie Hudson gained international attention when they dressed as weapons inspectors, entered and were arrested at a Minuteman III nuclear missile site in Colorado. Convicted of federal felony charges, the three nuns were sentenced to prison. Hudson died in 2011.
When Platte and Gilbert returned to Colorado in 2017 for a rally, a story in The Denver Post stated: “In the years since they served their sentences in federal prison, the Dominican sisters, hardly deterred by the threat of future incarceration, have become pop culture icons.”
A character on the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” was based on Platte, who practiced yoga at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution with Piper Kerman, author of the book on which the series about a group of women serving time in a minimum-security women’s prison is based.
A documentary film about the sisters, called “Conviction,” led to stories about the trio being published in The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as some international publications.
In recent months, Platte and Gilbert joined actress Jane Fonda for large protests at the White House.
Gilbert, who called 911 when she realized Platte had died, said the Catholic Worker house was soon crawling with D.C. police.
“I wanted to tell Ardeth that even in death you have to make a scene, made our bedroom here into a crime scene.”
In an email announcement of Platte’s sudden death sent to many of her friends, Catholic activist Paul Magno of Jonah House wrote: “Deep shock to hear this but grateful for all that Ardeth has given to making the peace of Christ radiate through our world.”
In 2017, Platte told The Denver Post: “I refuse to have an enemy. I simply won’t.” 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Wouldn't call it a debate....


I wouldn't call it a debate - more like a professional wrestling match.  This is the reason why more people in America don't vote than those who do.  They are sick of this shit.

MB and I tried to watch it but turned it off after awhile.  No redeeming value at all from either of them.  We agreed that this debate is a clear reflection of the collapse of the US military and economic empire.

Some years ago the corporate oligarchies that run this country said that they must turn politics into a food fight in order to turn off more and more American citizens.  That way the oligarchs would have an easier time controlling the country.  Their strategy appears to be working.

You've got one fascist candidate who blows the dog whistle for the armed right-wingers to 'stand by' while the other candidate has trouble finishing sentences and can't really find any major issues that he disagrees with the other on because in the end they both represent the corporate interests.

Take health care for example - both candidates support the 'insurance' companies remaining in control of the system - but they tinker around the edges and argue over mundane policies that won't have much ultimate impact.

They both demonize China and Russia and equally want to expand the Pentagon even more.  

I can't imagine voting for either one of these corporate empty suits - and I won't. Instead in Maine we have Ranked Choice Voting in the presidential and Congressional races.  I'll vote for the Green party prez candidate Howie Hawkins rather than these two flunkies.

This is the best these two corporate controlled political parties have to offer the American people?!

God help us all....


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Upcoming Global Network Space issues 'Zoom' events


Air Force Space Command HQ at Petersen AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado

  Two ZOOM Webinars


1st Zoom event

Global Network leaders discuss ‘Space domination’ during Keep Space for Peace Week

October 8, 2020 on Zoom
10am (EST), 3pm (BST), 6pm (KST), 12midnight (AEST)

How can we confront the rapidly increasing militarisation and possible weaponization of space? 

When the US Space Force was established last year President Trump said that it marked “a big moment” and that there was “going to be a lot of things happening in space. Because space is the world’s newest warfighting domain.” 

A new generation of space weapons – Episode 2 of Reagan’s Star Wars – is in the cards. The U.S., Russia, China and India have extensive military space programmes and tested Anti-satellite weapons (ASATs) and the UK, France, NATO, Japan and South Korea have either established or are working towards their own military Space Forces. 

Keep Space for Peace Week gives us an opportunity to focus on the challenges presented by the rush to exploit space. 

GN Convenor Professor Dave Webb introduces a panel of GN experts: Professor Karl Grossman (U.S.), Tamara Lorincz (Canada), Sung-Hee Choi (South Korea), Denis Doherty (Australia) and GN Coordinator Bruce Gagnon (U.S.) to discuss ways in which we can face these challenges.

Register for the meeting here:

2nd Zoom event

As part of the  “Space Education and Strategic Applications Conference” 

This 2-day conference is organised by the Policies Studies Organization and will be entirely virtual around the time of “Keep Space for Peace Week” (October 3-10)

More details and program here: 

On October 15th at 1:20 pm (EST) the Global Network will be holding a panel on “Campaigning to Keep Space for Peace”, introduced and chaired by Professor Dave Webb (UK) with Professor Karl Grossman (US), Tamara Lorincz (Canada), Dr Aruna Kammila (India) and Bruce Gagnon (US). 

The panel members will discuss different aspects of the problems associated with the continuing militarisation of space and creating a global resistance to Keep Space for Peace. 

Each panel member will speak for 10-15 minutes and then questions will be taken from the audience and discussed by the panel members.

Please join us – you can register for the conference here:  

Monday, September 28, 2020

Visiting Gull Rock pottery in Hancock, Maine


MB and I recently visited Gull Rock Pottery in Hancock, Maine which is run by our friend Akemi Wray and her husband Russell.  It is located on wondrous Frenchman Bay.

Russell is a great artist who does amazing nature sculpture, etchings and engravings.  You can see his website here.

Akemi makes beautiful pottery with blue and white brush designs.  She is from Japan and of course her work clearly features that cultural influence. We bought several different pieces of her work and are now using them daily.


They are both great souls - we first met on a bus ride from Portland to Washington DC for a protest against George W. Bush's 'shock and awe' war in Iraq.  During more recent times Russell has been very active in our conversion campaign at Bath Iron Works and he has made brilliant banner paintings for our peace walks up and down the state.  Here is one of my favorites - Russell is standing next to me in the photo.

When ever we visit them Akemi always makes the most incredible food and she artfully lays out a beautiful spread on the table as we sit down to eat.

They are rare birds and make living in Maine all the more special for us.  If you are ever up in the Ellsworth-Hancock area be sure to stop and buy some of Akemi's wonderful pottery and one of Russell's works.  

You'll never regret it.


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sunday song