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, February 20, 2016

Russia: The 2nd Most Powerful Military in the World?



Russia Insider says:

The venerable Stephen Cohen lays into Hillary, Obama and the NATO military build-up against Russia with RT's Ed Schultz (formerly of MSNBC).

The US and its NATO vassals continue to live in a fantasy land of Russian threats. But Barack Obama apparently can't decide if Russia is a threat or not.

In March 2014 Obama declared Russia a "regional power" which was threatening neighboring countries "out of weakness."

Yet now he says Russia has the "second most powerful military in the world."

Wow, Vladimir Putin has engineered a remarkable climb in Russia's strength in only 2 years.

My view: Add the NATO members to the US total and you get about 60% of world spending on the war machine.  Russia a threat?  Hardly.....

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Land of Greed & Hunger



On the eve of the Nevada primaries, a special presentation of the feature length documentary by Paul Jay reveals Las Vegas as a model of neoliberalism, a tale of the shape of things to come. It's all told through the eyes of a Canadian Blues Brothers act deciding whether they want to move their families to Vegas. It's two performers portraying two actors playing two fictitious characters in a town where everything is a replica of something else.

America is becoming like Las Vegas - a place where you don't have to get to know your next door neighbor....

Hypocrisy in Action - Here Comes Another U.S. Nuclear Missile Test

A previous US ballistic nuclear delivery system launch from Vandenberg AFB


The US will launch a Minuteman-III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) from California to the Marshall Islands some time over the coming weekend.

An Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman-III ICBM is scheduled for take-off between Saturday, Feb. 20 and Sunday, Feb. 21 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

After all the recent feigned outrage about North Korea launching a satellite into space the US will press on by practicing the delivery of a nuclear warhead in the direction of China and North Korea.  There are now 3,600 satellites in space of which about 1,100 of them are still operational and guess who launched most of them? Where is the global concern?

The Pentagon has been using Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands as ground-zero for nuclear bomb and missile tests since the nuclear age began.  How about some international outrage about the environmental damage the US has done to this chain of islands?  How about some screaming and hollering in the corporate media about the provocative nature of these US first-strike ICBM tests? 


The US reeks of hypocrisy.  The US (and its chosen allies) can launch all the satellites they want and test all the ballistic missiles they want because - well of course - they are god's chosen people.

Bullshit....

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Chomsky Wants You to Wake Up from the American Dream


By David Swanson

If you've just seen Michael Moore's movie and are wondering how in the world the United States got diverted into the slow lane to hell, go watch Noam Chomsky's movie. If you've just seen Noam Chomsky's movie and are wondering whether the human species is really worth saving, go see Michael Moore's movie. If you haven't seen either of these movies, please tell me that you haven't been watching presidential debates. As either of these movies would be glad to point out to you, that's NOT HOW YOU CHANGE ANYTHING.

"Filmed over four years, these are his last long-form documentary interviews," Chomsky's film, Requiem for the American Dream, says of him at the start, rather offensively. Why? He seems perfectly able to give interviews and apparently gave those in this film for four years. And of course he acquired the insights he conveys over many more years than that. They are not new insights to activists, but they would be like revelations from another world to a typical U.S. resident.

Chomsky explains how concentrated wealth creates concentrated power, which legislates further concentration of wealth, which then concentrates more power in a vicious cycle. He lists and elaborates on ten principles of the concentration of wealth and power -- principles that the wealthy of the United States have acted intensely on for 40 years or more.

1. Reduce Democracy. Chomsky finds this acted on by the very "founding fathers" of the United States, in the creation of the U.S. Senate, and in James Madison's statement during debate over the U.S. Constitution that the new government would need to protect the wealthy from too much democracy. Chomsky finds the same theme in Aristotle but with Aristotle proposing to reduce inequality, while Madison proposed to reduce democracy. The burst of activism and democracy in the United States in the 1960s scared the protectors of wealth and privilege, and Chomsky admits that he did not anticipate the strength of the backlash through which we have been suffering since.

2. Shape Ideology. The Powell Memo from the corporate right, and the Trilateral Commission's first ever report, called "The Crisis of Democracy," are cited by Chomsky as roadmaps for the backlash. That report referred to an "excess of democracy," the over engagement of young people with civic life, and the view that young people were just not receiving proper "indoctrination." Well, there's a problem that's been fixed, huh?

3. Redesign the Economy. Since the 1970s the United States has been moved toward an ever larger role for financial institutions. By 2007 they "earned" 40% of corporate profits. Deregulation has produced wealth concentration and economic crashes, followed by anti-capitalist bailouts making for more wealth concentration. Offshore production has reduced workers' pay. Alan Greenspan testified to Congress about the benefits of promoting "job insecurity" -- something those Europeans in Michael Moore's film don't know about and might find it hard to appreciate.

4. Shift the Burden. The American Dream in the 1950s and 60s was partly real. Both the rich and the poor got richer. Since then, we've seen the steady advance of what Chomsky calls the plutonomy and the precariat, that is the wealthy few who run the show and get all the new wealth, and the precarious proletariat. Back then, taxes were quite high on corporations, dividends, and wealth. Not anymore.

5. Attack Solidarity. To go after Social Security and public education, Chomsky says, you have to drive the normal emotion of caring about others out of people's heads. The U.S. of the 1950s was able to make college essentially free with the G.I. Bill and other public funding. Now a much wealthier United States is full of "serious" experts who claim that such a thing is impossible (and who must strictly avoid watching Michael Moore).

6. Run the Regulators. The 1970s saw enormous growth in lobbying. It is now routine for the interests being regulated to control the regulators, which makes things much easier on the regulated.

7. Engineer Elections. Thus we've seen the creation of corporate personhood, the equation of money with speech, and the lifting of all limits under Citizens United.

8. Keep the Rabble in Line. Here Chomsky focuses on attacks on organized labor, including the Taft Hartley Act, but one could imagine further expansions on the theme.

9. Manufacture Consent. Obsessive consumers are not born, they're molded by advertising. The goal of directing people to superficial consumption as a means of keeping people in their place was explicit and has been reached. In a market economy, Chomsky says, informative advertisements would result in rational decisions. But actual advertisements provide no information and promote irrational choices. Here Chomsky is talking about, not just ads for automobiles and soap, but also election campaigns for candidates.

10. Marginalize the Population. This seems as much a result as a tactic, but it certainly has been achieved. What the public wants does not typically impact what the U.S. government does.

Unless the trends described above are reversed, Chomsky says, things are going to get very ugly.

Then the film shows us a clip of Chomsky saying the same thing decades earlier when he was still shown on U.S. television. He's been marginalized along with the rest of us.

I imagine every friendly critic of this film has a #11 to add, and that they are all different. In fact, I can think of lots of things to add, but I insist on mentioning one of them. It's the same one missing from Bernie Sanders' home movie starring Iowa and New Hampshire. Its the thing missing from all U.S. discourse but showing up in Michael Moore's movie as a great difference between the United States and Europe.

11. Dump Massive Funding into Militarism. Why should this be included? Well, militarism is the biggest public program in the United States. It's over half of federal discretionary spending. If you're going to claim that lobbyists are concentrating wealth through their influence on the government, why not notice the single budget item that eats up over half the budget? It does indeed concentrate wealth and also power. It's a vast pot of unaccountable funding for cronies. And it generates public interest in fighting foreign enemies rather than enemies hanging out on Wall Street. It does militarize the police for free, however, just in case Wall Street generates any disgruntled customers.

Chomsky does, of course, oppose militarism. As far as I know he's consistently opposed it for many years. We see B-roll of him in the movie with anti-war books in his office. And discussion of point #1 above mentions the peace movement of the 1960s. How the single biggest thing that the wealthy and powerful do in their effort to expand their power over the whole globe didn't make the top-10 list I don't know.

The film concludes with a call to build mass movements for change. The United States still has a very free society, Chomsky advises. A lot can be done, he tells us, if people will only choose to do it.

~ David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Latest Global Network Newsletter Available


You will find our latest Global Network newsletter at this link just below.  Please give us a hand by sharing the link widely so others can see the newsletter.

You can also order print copies from us for local distribution in your community.  All we ask is that you cover postage of the bundle to you.  Let us know how many copies you want and we'll mail them and when the package arrives just send us back a check for the cost of postage.

Many thanks for helping us spread the word about these important global space and peace issues.

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
globalnet@mindspring.com
www.space4peace.org

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The American Circus


Republican presidential candidate and rich boy Donald Trump has a long history with professional wrestling.  The phony, scripted, snarling world of bloviating wrestlers has become a cheap metaphor for the US electoral arena.  Trump has learned from wrestling how to appeal to the American working class with meaningless emotion and snide remarks disguised as political program. 

Long ago I read that the goal of the ruling oligarchies in the US was to make national elections so unappealing that the public would refuse to participate any longer making it easier for the top 1% to control the nation.

The entertainment value of Donald Trump's so-called presidential campaign well illustrates this mission of turning elections into circus.

Part of me still wants to maintain that the whole Republican circus is also intended to make Hillary Clinton look good to the public.  The oligarchy wants her as president so that she can do like Obama has done - keep the wars going, force austerity budgets and keep the liberals under control.

The System


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What American People Don't Understand


The American people don't understand what happens when you've been invaded by the biggest military on the planet and that you have to fight for every single square centimeter of your country in order to protect your land and your loved ones.

This picture was taken during the Vietnam war when the US ordered the bombing of neighboring Cambodia.  In 1969, President Richard Nixon and his National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, unleashed B-52 carpet bombing for over fourteen months against a people who still tilled the soil with water buffalo. The 3,500 bombing sorties resulted in 600,000 deaths. The American bombing of Cambodia was a closely guarded secret primarily because the U.S. was not at war with Cambodia.

On Sept. 15, 1970 a victim of American bombing, ethnic Cambodian guerrilla Danh Son Huol, was carried to an improvised operating room in a mangrove swamp on the Ca Mau Peninsula. This scene was an actual medical situation, not a publicity setup. The photographer, however, considered the image unexceptional and never printed it. 

Folks all over the world at this very moment are on the receiving end of US bombs - either dropped by Pentagon forces or their proxies.  People are having to find ways to survive while back here in the good ole USA folks are distracted by sports, raucous presidential election debates, TV, and their daily struggles to keep food on the table.

Maybe someday the American people can feel empathy for those around the world on the receiving end of our war machine.  Maybe the American people will figure out that their lives here would be much easier if we were not spending 55% of every discretionary federal tax dollar on the military industrial complex.  Maybe...

You can see alot more of these photos from the Vietnam war here

Playing with Wider War


Lawrence Wilkerson is a retired United States Army soldier and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson is an adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary where he teaches courses on US national security. He also instructs a senior seminar in the Honors Department at the George Washington University entitled "National Security Decision Making."

Responding to Corporate Domination


In this episode of teleSUR's Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein diagnose the problems plaguing US politics, highlighting the dysfunction of a two-party system dominated by corporate interests. 

Scrap UK's Trident Nukes

 
The UK's Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is causing quote, 'a great deal of nervousness' among NATO officials, that's according to a former head of the alliance. Lord Robertson says concerns have been raised by Britain's allies over Corbyn's vocal opposition to Britain renewing it's nuclear weapons program - which NATO relies on for defense.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Black Liberation Movement Lives

 
During Black History Month, as the U.S. pays homage to African Americans who have changed the course of history, the establishment shows us a revised version that omits a critical piece: the Black radical political tradition. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Turkey Attacks Syria


The Turkish army has shelled Kurdish targets near the city of Azaz in northwest Syria, including an air base recently retaken from Islamist rebels, with a massive attack. It also hit Syrian forces across the border, according to media reports.

My reading of this is that the Turkey-Saudi-US supported ISIS forces are getting slammed largely due to Russian intervention in Syria.  Turkey-Saudi Arabia are now reportedly preparing to do a land invasion of Syria to save the reeling ISIS forces.

The US (as usual) is playing a confusing game of working both sides.  The US supports ISIS because it wants Assad to fall in Syria and at the same time it sees Russia becoming successful and fears Washington will become irrelevant - so the US agrees to work with Russia on a ceasefire.  Washington essentially is playing the role of a double agent.

See more on this story here

Sunday Song