Organizing Notes

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

My Photo
Name:
Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Protesting at the Air Show

Click on any of the photos for a better view






Several from the 'Patriot Riders' motorcycle club parked their bikes and jumped in front of us.  They stood in front of Veterans for Peace member Tom Whitney (white shirt) and threatened to beat him up when he held his sign up so it could be read.  After about 15 minutes the club whose motto is "Freedom isn't Free" got back on their motorbikes and roared off. The Brunswick police, just across the street, did nothing.  If a group of peaceniks jumped in front of a right-wing protest we'd be quickly made to move and likely would face some rough treatment by the cops.




We stood for just over three hours at the entrance to the former Navy base in Brunswick, Maine today while thousands of people limped their way toward the Blue Angels airshow in a major traffic jam.  It was an organizers dream - a captive audience.  People often complain that we are always 'preaching to the choir' but that wasn't the case today.

We had a couple dozen positive responses from those driving into the airshow but the vast majority of people were sullen, angry, and even viciously nasty.  Since 2003 we've done these airshow protests here in Brunswick at least 7-8 times but this was the meanest crowd I can remember.  Several others in our group of 15 noticed the same thing and wondered what the difference was this time around.

I think it is a complicated question with several possible answers.  First I'd suggest that those who are pro-military are tired of losing all the wars that the US keeps fighting.  (After all we have this huge high-tech military machine and can't lick those darn folks in dusty Afghanistan.) So pro-war people get surly when peaceniks dare appear at a 'patriotic show' like this one today.  Secondly there is the 'Trump factor' where 'The Donald' is promising a return to the glorious past of the USA.  He tells his supporters that we'll have the greatest military (undefeatable) once again, we will build a wall along the Mexican border, that he'll bring the jobs back that 'China took from us' and other such trash.  This opens the door for the latent racism and blood thirsty warmongering that is instilled in the core of many American hearts and gives license to the unleashing of this rabid dog.  An airshow, where there is a kind of worship of killing power on display, becomes a perfect festival of sacrifice.  But there standing at the entrance of the airshow is the crew of peaceniks spoiling the party.  It pisses alot of them off - big time.

A half-dozen of the so-called 'Patriot Riders' zoomed up on their motorbikes, parked them, and grabbed their American flags and began to jump in front of some of our folks who were holding signs.  They tried to pick a fight with retired medical doctor Tom Whitney, who is a member of Veterans for Peace, but were unsuccessful in their bullying tactics.  One of them got in front of the banner I was helping to hold but I asked him to move and he did.  He began yelling to cars, "God bless the USA."  After a minute I asked him if God blessed other countries as well?  He was startled by the question but did generously agree that God likely did bless other nations as well.

The 'Patriot Riders' were trying to hand out cards to airshow enthusiasts as their cars crept toward the former base.  The red-white-blue card read in part "Seeking new members....We believe in the Constitution of the USA and all of it's preambles."

We heard alot about freedom today from the passing motorists.  Things like:  "If it wasn't for these planes you wouldn't have a right to stand there protesting."  The funny thing though is that most of those spitting out the 'freedom' word at us really didn't like the fact that we were actually exercising such freedoms by protesting the airshow.  Many of them shot us the finger, thumbs down, cursed at us, gave us the evil stare and the like.

I've been publicly protesting for more than 35 years but today felt like one of the most abusive events I have ever experienced.  We know that the American empire is in collapse and I believe that in their hearts people know this to be true.  Folks want to hang on to old glory but the tattered flag is fading fast in the dusty winds of time.  I fear that the corporate oligarchy that runs the USA is turning the rage of the people against the critics - a red-white-blue version of Hitler's fascist brown shirts.  We see this being done in other places like Ukraine.  What makes us think that they would not do the same here in the US as well?

I was glad we were at the airshow today with our signs and banners.  If you want to reach the American people just go out onto the streets because they are in their cars.  The road has become the town square in the US of A.

~ Photos by Peter Woodruff

Friday, September 04, 2015

Watching the Political Gate Keepers


Almost daily on Fazebook or various email lists I am witnessing some 'peaceniks' go to great lengths to defend Bernie Sanders and attack those who dare utter a questioning word about the candidate's positions on military and foreign policy.

Today on one email list a Washington DC-based staffer for a group called 'Just Foreign Policy' hit back at an activist who raised a question about Sanders with this comment:  "Is the purpose of this list to shill for Jill Stein and the ultra-left retard faction?"

After several folks challenged that comment (particularly the tone) the staffer responded with this:

But some of the noise on the left against Sanders is coming from ultra-left fantasyland - a place of dishonesty, manipulation, deceit, and abuse - and it's important to call that out. 

Israel-Palestine is a great example of this. There is a faction of people who are trashing Sanders for "supporting Israeli militarism" because he hasn't opposed U.S. military aid to Israel. 

That's an ultra-left fantasyland position. Sanders isn't running as the candidate of the ISO or the SWP or the Workers' World Party. He's running for the Democratic nomination for President. To trash him for not taking the positions that the Trotskyite groups are taking is to fundamentally attack the political engagement of people in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
My interpretation of these comments is that they are intended to red bait anyone who dares challenge one of the Democrat candidates on foreign policy.  We are accused of being purists and not practical.  It's a strategy we see played out across the nation every election cycle to keep people in their boxes - afraid to challenge the mainstream political system to end its global imperial domination project.

And it works - loads of liberals get in line and reflexively take pot shots at anyone that dares question Democratic Party candidates about our bases overseas, endless war, NATO on steroids, expensive weapons systems, military aid to Israel, Pentagon environmental impacts, or the enormously obscene Pentagon budget.  You are told to stop being so issue selfish, demanding, and are accused of 'hurting' their favorite candidate.  Just wait until after Sanders gets elected, then we can talk about peace, we are told.

The message is be satisfied when the candidate says they support an audit of the Pentagon and would use drones more wisely.  It's called an 'enlightened' imperial war machine.

When you track some of these Washington-based groups back to their funding trail and their party allegiances what you usually find are links to the rotting soul of the Democratic Party.  The party sends these gate keepers out during election time to herd the sheep and chase away any "retarded lefty" wolves who might infect the flock with such lofty and unrealistic notions like peace and disarmament.

You can be sure that there is a direct link between the level of nastiness from the gatekeepers and the fact that they are losing sway with the majority of the rank-and-file within the most active elements of the progressive movements.  Folks out in the hustings are slowly figuring out who works for who these days. 

I saw a similar scene in South Korea where any activist that dares to question the US military bases in their country, their own government's level of military spending, and dares call for reunification of Korea is usually accused of being an agent of North Korea.  Organizations are attacked and activists put in jail for those 'crimes'.

It's an insult to the truth and the idea of democracy. It's fascism.

I still take election campaigns seriously.  If you are going to run for office then you'd better get ready to field the tough questions from the retarded Trotskyites in the audience.  We all have a right to think for ourselves and to speak up.  It's called human rights.

'Don't Get Caught Up in the Lie'

 
Larry Kerchsner interviewed in the second in the series Warriors For Peace: Veterans Speak. 

Video by Regis Tremblay.

On the Iran Deal


Sanders Wants "Strongest Military in the World"

See Bernie Sanders on foreign policy starting at 4:00 minutes into the video.  The phrase that disturbs me the most is "I believe the US should have the strongest military in the world."

Currently the US spends 34% of the world total on military spending - Russia comes in at 4.8%.  Add in the NATO countries to the US total and you reach 50%.  

The real question for Sanders remains how can you fund the "strongest military in the world" and still afford to provide free college tuition, free medical care and fulfill the other social spending priorities he promises? 

The problem with Bernie's campaign is that half of him is trying to be an insurgent candidate and the other half of him is trying to play the Democratic party inside baseball strategy.  It's a contradiction and can't be sustained over the course of a long campaign.  He's running a campaign with half his brain and heart tied to a ball and chain.

My opinion is that Sanders won't get the nomination and he is failing to use this golden opportunity to really tell the truth to the American people - our military empire is killing our domestic economy, we can't afford social progress at home and pay for endless war at the same time.
Notice that Sanders does not question US foreign policy moves to dominate the world on behalf of corporate capitalism.  His critique is limited to we can't go it alone - we have to work in conjunction with our allies in a more effective way.  (He calls for our head chopping ally Saudi Arabia to do more since they have a big military which is largely supplied by the US military industrial complex.) He doesn't touch the issue of whether our bombing of Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia was just, legal or immoral.  (He does briefly say Bush's Iraq attack was wrong but that is all he says.)  For example he endorses drones and promises he'd do a better job of using them - he won't kill so many innocent people.  Bernie sticks to the same old Democratic Party foreign policy outlines.  He's got no balls.

If he would have the courage to address our out-of-control military machine then I'd be all out for the Bern....but sadly he's half-stepping which won't cut the mustard in my book.

What is Next for Ukraine?

 
Violence has again returned to the streets of Kiev – the internal contradictions of the Maidan coup are on view for all to see. Since the forced ouster of the previous elected government, Ukraine has been long on intolerance and short on compromise. What’s next for this divided country? CrossTalking with Dmitry Babich and Mark Sleboda.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Everything is Fine



Everything is fine
payday comes
on Friday
car payment due
but its all fine

Don't need to worry
about a thing
weather
unusually hot
but not bothered
sitting in idling car
talking on Samsung phone
everything is fine

What's to complain about?
we are on top
tip-top of the  
$$$$ mountain
our global military power
will be safe
even if Bernie wins
heard him say so
we'll stay #1
you got the Bern?

Everything is fine
ships under production
just down the street
paychecks coming in
spending big at local
coffee shop
everybody making $$$$

Just take a walk
see it all
right before your eyes
cars zooming by
windows rolled up
AC turned on
full blast
everything is fine
here in vacation land

feels like southwest
Texas
dry as a bone
not distracted
by anything
except occasional
roar of Blue Angels
practicing
for weekend show
some call it
the price of freedom
I call it
ritual sacrafice
the collapse
of the Aztecs
all over again

nobody noticed
at the time 
everything was fine

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Airshow Not All Fun & Games


Join us for protest in Brunswick this Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm in front of former Navy base on Old Bath Road.  Wear ear plugs.

Photo above is of napalm burned for "entertainment" at the last Blue Angels air show in Brunswick.  Who knew that burning people alive was 'loads of family fun'?  This is what the children are being taught at this military recruiting spectacle.  It's moral depravity.

Thanks to Lisa Savage from CodePink Maine for this image above.  Last weekend she and her husband Mark Roman came to Brunswick and handed out a flyer with the image to local residents urging them to rattle their chains about the airshow.

Stripping Greece of its National Assets



German parliament approves €86 billion Greek bailout with 454 lawmakers voting ‘yes’, 113 voting ‘no’ and 18 abstaining. According to the bailout terms Greek ports, water suppliers, islands will be sold to satisfy EU privatisation.

But economists are not sure the packages can help Greece to overcome the crisis. Ratings agency Fitch which upgraded Greece's ratings by one notch to 'CCC' from 'CC' says that the risks of unsuccessful completion of the Greek bailout are still high.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Rat Race in Space

Nuclear powered Cassini space craft orbits Saturn


We treat one another
on our satellite
Earth
like we are
aliens
from another
planet

It takes
much ignorance
and arrogance
to miss
the point
that all humankind
are family
on this
spinning orb

Somehow
the elites
have successfully
turned us against
one another

Next they will
take this
dog-eat-dog
system
into space
into
the heavens

Who will
control
the planetary bodies
for resource extraction?

The profit motive
appears
to know
no bounds
the rat race
moves
into space

Who is Really Responsible for Refugee Crisis?



"I am not a terrorist, this is not a terrorist... We are human beings. Where is the humanity? Where is the world to see...
Posted by Al Jazeera English on Monday, August 24, 2015



The US-NATO create a war to try to topple the government of Syria. Massive refugee crisis ensues and the people who are running for their lives are met with this bitterness and violence. The real evil here is the US-NATO for creating the war in Syria.

Similarly refugees from the US-NATO Libya take down debacle are also seeking safety and comfort.  African refugees are growing as the US corporate imperial project to take control of vital resources on their continent creates more instability that results in driving people from their homes.

Little analysis about the cause of these refugee crisis is aired on mainstream media.  The refugees are used to further divide societies - distracting them from staring deeply into the eyes of the real enemy which happens to be Mr. Big and his well paid underlings.

Post Atomic Reality

 
VICE accompanies photographer Donald Weber to the buffer zone at Fukushima, Japan, where the eerie silence mirrors that at Chernobyl, and follow him as he attempts to document the unfolding nuclear crisis.

War Crimes Continue Against People in Donbass

 
So the shelling and killing continues against the innocent people in eastern Ukraine.  Why does the US-NATO get away with these obvious war crimes?

Who will stand up to the runaway pirates in Washington-Brussels-London-Bonn?

Protest Saturday at Airshow in Brunswick


Coming up quickly this weekend at the former Navy base in Brunswick will be ‘The Great State of Maine Air Show’ featuring the Navy Blue Angels stunt team.
 
I learned yesterday that Maine Veterans for Peace had declined to organize a protest at the airshow. Feeling it important to stand in protest at this event I’ve decided on short notice to put out a call for a protest presence in front of the former Navy Base, now called Brunswick Landing and Executive Airport, in Brunswick.
 
We will gather from 10:00 am until 1:00 on Saturday, September 5.
 
It’s obvious that this airshow is a major recruiting gimmick for the Pentagon and is a horrible waste of resources especially during this time of growing government austerity. The carbon bootprint from such a massively polluting event once again underscores the reality that the US military is the largest polluter on the planet. Finally we should all be reminded of the indiscriminate killing that is done by these kind of warplanes in the real world.
 
If you are so motivated please join those of us who plan to hold banners and signs outside the airshow. 
 
Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Fr. Mun Back in Gangjeong Village

 
Catholic Father Mun has been away from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island for the past couple of weeks.  He had minor heart surgery a week or so ago when the doctors put in a stent to help ease arterial blockage.  On my last day in the village he called to apologize (can you imagine that?) for not being able to greet me while I was on Jeju.
 
Fr. Mun is credited with bringing many activists from around South Korea to help the struggling villagers in Gangjeong fight against the construction of the Navy base.  He and Jeju Bishop Kang recently successfully raised funds across their country to build the Francis Peace Center in the village that will provide shelter for visiting peace delegations.  An international Jesuit Peace Conference will soon be held there.
 
Fr. Mun is a living inspiration and example to all of us what it means to give oneself to a life of service for peace and justice.  He's a great man and the people of South Korea love him.  The people in Gangjeong village know that he brings something special to their embattled community. 

Welcome home Fr. Mun!

Space Warfighting Technology: A Key Obstacle to Nuclear Disarmament


  • I've got a month of neglected administrative work to catch up on.  Today I worked on the Global Network database, email list, made bank deposit, paid bills, returned phone calls, and began final work on Keep Space for Peace Week.  In addition I needed to spend some more time to keep our Maine Peace Walk (Oct 9-24) in motion which begins near the end of space week.  Plus I set in motion my next taping of This Issue public access TV show.  So lots of balls in the air were juggled today.
  • There is an interesting (and fundamental) debate going on beween some nuclear abolition folks lately.  There appears to be some reluctance by some activists to acknowledge that as long as the US is militarily surrounding Russia and China with an expanding NATO, deploying missile defense systems, Prompt Global Strike systems, the Pentagon's new 'military space plane, and more military bases near Russia and China that the chances of serious negotiations to get rid of nukes is a virtual impossibility.  Some activists just keep plunging ahead calling for abolition but seemingly oblivious to the real obstacles that are blocking negotiations for disarmament.   Russia and China have been clearly saying for several years that nuke treaty negotiations are OFF as long as the US-NATO keep up their aggressive moves.  It's like folks don't want to see the writing on the wall and its in neon letters!
  • So after reading another round of emails tonight where some activists are going back and forth on this I sent the following message:
Should we not consider the reasons why some nuclear abolitionists wish to avoid naming the real culprits (US-NATO) in Ukraine? [Which is causing a new cold war between Washington-London-Brussels-Bonn and Moscow.]

Take your pick:
1) Timidity
2) Fear of being Putinized
3) Fear of losing influence with Democrats (or ruling elites in various country)
4) Fear of money chain interruption
5) Fear of losing members
6) Fear of losing job
7) Fear of fear itself
8) Afraid to mention the words “missile defense”
9) Most, or all, of the above

The cure?  A trip to the Wizard of Oz.
  • Sometimes you just have to say what is in your heart and let your conception of truth speak for itself.

Japanese Government Takes Orders from Washington Despite Public Outrage

More than 100,000 people gathered outside Japan’s parliament building on Sunday to protest Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial bill, which authorizes Japanese armed forces to join foreign military operations. Some also called for the PM’s resignation.  

The US has long been pressuring Japan to get rid of its peaceful Article 9 of the Constitution that forbids offensive military forces.  The US wants Japan to become a more active 'partner' in endless NATO wars and to help go after China.  Thus Abe's government takes orders from Washington rather than listening to the will of the Japanese people.

It's great to see so many young people adding their voices to Japan's peace movement that had been an aging one.  One obvious reason for the surge of youth in Japan is they understand that the government would be coming after them to wear the uniforms of this new aggressive military.

An earlier wave of mass rallies protesting the bill was held across the country on August 23.

On Thursday, a group of Tokyo university students started a hunger strike outside the parliament demanding the abolition of the legislation, claiming to be determined to continue the strike as long as possible.

The Japanese public has consistently opposed the bill, with the latest poll conducted by the Kyodo news agency suggesting that almost 70 percent are against it receiving final approval.

“If I were to describe Japan with one phrase, it would be ‘a peaceful nation.’ But, right now, the unimaginable, the unrealistic is happening, where peace is being destroyed. That fear is being cast upon this nation right now,” said one of the protesters, university professor Mami Aoji, as quoted by Euronews.

“The way the government brushes aside public worries . . . it’s as though Japan is slipping back into its pre-World War II state,” said a translator, Hiromi Miyasaka, as quoted by the Japan Times.

“Japan should not become a country that wages war. Besides, Japan must build a good relationship with its Asian neighbours,” added another female demonstrator.

Who Really Runs Who?


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Excellent Overview of CIA History

 
Diplomat, spy, Wall Street lawyer, philanderer, government overthrow specialist, Nazi collaborator, MKULTRA overlord, presidential assassin. This week on the Corbett Report podcast: meet Allen Dulles, fascist spymaster.

Surging in Japan

国会前に風船を使った巨大横断幕「安倍はやめろ!」が上がりました!! #国会前 #パノラマ - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA



360 degree image taken in front of the Japanese Diet (Parliament building).  The folks are fired up to protect Article 9 - their peaceful constitution.  The young people, who would be forced into an aggressive military fighting on behalf of US corporate interests, appear to be leading this effort across Japan. 

Sunday Song