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: 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, March 26, 2016

The Hypocrites in El Norte


Who has the largest prison population on Earth composed of the poor and those entrapped for petty drug crimes?  The enslaved now work for corporations from the jail house making peanuts per hour. 

Yes, tell us Obama who locks up these political and economic prisoners?  Which nation should pull the log out of their own eye before they cast aspersions on others?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Remembering the Story in Argentina


Torture is Terrorism: A Survivor's StoryIn Argentina, when the military dictatorship came to power in 1976, thousands of people who were seen as a political threat were kidnapped and tortured by the military. This is the story of one of the women that were kidnapped. The story of torture and pain behind the era of terror of the military dictatorship in Argentina. #NuncaMas
Posted by teleSUR English on Thursday, March 24, 2016

Peace Movement Ebbs & Flows Depending on Which Party is in Office


Saw it during the Bill Clinton years and now the Obama years.  Peaceniks who identified themselves as 'Democrats' became scarce when both those Democrat presidents continued doing the war making that previous Republican presidents had done.  Pentagon budget increases continued under Clinton and Obama just like they did during the administrations of Bush I and Bush II.  Star Wars research and development funding and deployments remained steady when both parties were in power.

Domestic surveillance and destruction of our privacy and civil rights expanded under Obama.  Cutbacks in social programs continued under Democrats as they had under Republicans.

During the Obama administration I watched local peace groups all over the country fold up their tents and shut down operations.  One group in Florida that I had spoken to more than any other organization during my career (about 20 times over the years) had me come talk just after Obama was elected.  I warned them to watch both of Obama's hands - he is a magician just like Bill Clinton.  They didn't like that I was being critical of 'their new president', most of them were loyal Democrats.  They never invited me back - nothing personal, they just didn't want to hold Obama to the same standard that they held the Bush crime family to.

In February of 2012 I wrote on this blog:

Just this morning the Washington Post carried a story entitled 'Poll finds broad support for Obama’s counter-terrorism policies'. The article reveals that a new "Post-ABC News poll found that 83 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s drone policy, which administration officials refuse to discuss, citing security concerns.....77 percent of liberal Democrats endorse the use of drones, meaning that Obama is unlikely to suffer any political consequences as a result of his policy in this election year."

The poll also shows that "that 53 percent of self-identified liberal Democrats — and 67 percent of moderate or conservative Democrats — support keeping Guantanamo Bay open, even though it emerged as a symbol of the post-Sept. 11 national security policies of George W. Bush, which many liberals bitterly opposed."

So here is my prediction.  If Hillary gets elected the missing Democratic Party peaceniks (the ones who have Obama bumper stickers on their cars right next to the bumper stickers that read 'War is not the answer') will stay missing.  If Trump (or any other Republican) gets elected the ranks of the peace movement will again swell with outraged Democrats who will criticize every drone mission that a Republican president flies.

One thing is certain in this biz - and I've been at it full-time since 1982 - if there is a Republican in office then we've got a movement.  If we have a Democrat in office then those remaining loyal peaceniks on the streets will have their hands full carrying the endless war burden that others don't wish to acknowledge.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

What is in Kerry's Briefcase?

 
Russia’s president is curious as to why US Secretary of State John Kerry has to carry his own luggage. Amused that there seems to be no one to help him, Putin cracked a joke, hinting that America’s top diplomat may have brought money “to haggle with.” 
 
“But today when I saw the footage of you going down the plane and carrying your luggage I was a bit upset… On the one hand, it’s quite a democratic way of conduct, but on the other hand, I thought, probably, the situation in the United States is not that good. There is no one to assist the Secretary of State carry his luggage,” Putin said.

“Then I thought there was something in that briefcase of yours you couldn’t trust anyone else with. Probably you brought some money to haggle with on key matters”.

John Kerry said he would reveal the secret of his briefcase’s contents later, promising that it would be a surprise.

“When we have a private moment, I’ll show you what’s in that briefcase. And I think you’ll be surprised. Pleasantly.”

Kerry arrived in Moscow on Thursday and has been holding negotiations with Russia’s President and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The negotiations are said to concern a number of issues, such as the situation in Syria, the Ukrainian crisis, the recent Flydubai crash, and the fate of Ukrainian pilot Savchenko.  

How Can a 'Peacenik' Vote for Clinton?


In many states during this so-called primary season - where both mainstream political parties play their corporate shell game - the stories about voter suppression are growing by the week.

During the latest round in the Arizona primary it was more than evident that the chest-thumping exceptional democracy can't, or doesn't intend to, organize fair elections. States like Florida, my old stomping grounds for 30 years, once again get a prize for maximum voter denial.

My favorite story from the recent Florida primary was when a voter entered a polling station in Polk County (rural central Florida redneck place where I used to do farmworker union organizing). The person was told that the Democrats were not on the ballot that day - only Republicans.  The voter keep insisting until finally the worker at the polls relented and went into a back room to 'discover' that indeed there were Democratic party ballots.  This kind of suppression not only helps the Republicans but also Hillary Clinton as a larger primary voter turnout works against her medieval candidacy.

Here in Maine, like most other places around the country, there is already growing debate within the 'peace movement' community about what to do after Clinton wins the nomination.  Should peaceniks vote for Hillary who guarantees more military spending and more wars?  Even Trump is at times sounding like a non-interventionist compared to Clinton. Some peaceniks actually maintain that they must support the candidate that neo-cons like Robert Kagan are supporting - Hillary Clinton.  I can't figure it.

Here is the Washington Post reporting on their recent meeting with Trump:

Donald Trump outlined an unabashedly noninterventionist approach to world affairs Monday, telling The Washington Post's editorial board that he questions the need for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which has formed the backbone of Western security policies since the Cold War.

Speaking ahead of a major address on foreign policy later Monday in front of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Trump said he advocates a light footprint in the world. In spite of unrest abroad, especially in the Middle East, Trump said the United States must look inward and steer its resources toward rebuilding domestic infrastructure.

"Why are we always the one that’s leading, potentially the third world war with Russia," said Trump.

Trump said that U.S. involvement in NATO may need to be significantly diminished in the coming years, breaking with nearly seven decades of consensus in Washington. "We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore," Trump said, adding later, "NATO is costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money."

Trump sounded a similar note in discussing the U.S. presence in the Pacific. He questioned the value of massive military investments in Asia and wondered aloud whether the United States still was capable of being an effective peacekeeping force there.

This is obviously one key reason Jeb Bush has endorsed Ted Cruz over Trump.  On some level Trump is upsetting the imperial war project.  Hell, Bernie Sanders ain't saying half of the stuff that Trump told the Post.  Clinton is saying none of this!

How about one more semi-endorsement from the depths of hell?  Bush's war hungry V-P Dick Cheney has pointed his dark light on Clinton.  He told the UK's The Telegraph this:

Former US vice president Dick Cheney has praised Hillary Clinton as one of the more competent members of President Barack Obama's administration, saying it would be "interesting to speculate" on how she would perform as president.

I'm not suggesting that I, or anyone else, should vote for Trump.  But I will say that for peaceniks to say they have to vote for Hillary just to keep Trump out of office is more than strange.  They both are corporate pirates.

How can a self-respecting political activist who has given their life toward working for peace, turn around and vote for Hillary Clinton?  Honduras, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Palestine and more.  We know where she stands and it is bad news.

I want to support a positive, alternative, transformative vision of the future.  Neither Republicans or Democrats offer that.  I will vote for the Green Party's candidate Jill Stein who is real and tells the truth about what must be done now if we hope to survive on this planet.  Build it and they will come.....

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Seeing Behind the Tragic Curtain


Originally aired on BBC in 1992, 'Operation Gladio',  the NATO sponsored terror network operating in Europe.

In the context of the horrific killings in Brussels it might be worth while for people to watch this video.  We know that professional 'law enforcement' types have long ago said that most criminals have a way of repeating their bad behavior over and over again.  It's called 'modus operandi'.

Who benefits from alleged Muslim terrorist bombings like the one in Belgium?  Who created ISIS (which took responsibility for the attacks) in the first place and essentially funds it and controls it today?  What is their real agenda?  How can those who created ISIS best get away with their sinister plans?  What do they want from the public?

Yesterday I watched a US 'national security representative' saying on mainstream TV news that the Europeans are far too lax in their security operations.  They need to do more like the US does, the agent suggested.  Europe must share more intelligence information with the US, the agent said.  The agent was calling for a total coordinated surveillance operation throughout Europe, costing an enormous amount of taxpayer money, that would all be run through and controlled by the US security state.

I don't know what really happened in Brussels. But since reading 'The Pentagon Papers' years ago (that told Washington's own dirty secrets about the true origins of the Vietnam War) I've come to witness an endless string of 'terrorist events' around the world with inquiring eyes. These events always have the same result - they justify more domestic surveillance, the loss of civil rights, ever-upward levels of military spending, more social spending austerity cuts, and endless war that only benefits the corporate oil-i-garchy - what I've come to call Mr. Big - the corporate criminal syndicate that runs the world.  The modern day pirates.

Watching the BBC Gladio documentary puts all of the above into a frame of view that allows everyone a glimpse into how the 'deep state' manipulates all of us.

Terrorism will end when we stop believing and supporting those that are moving the human pieces on the Grand Chessboard.  We are the ones that can end terrorism by withdrawing our consent from this corrupt global system that is killing us all.

California Veggies & Fracked Water

 
A story about the Central Valley's Cawelo Water District where the drought is causing farmers to use recycled oil water to irrigate their crops. 
 
Watch what you eat.  Profits trump health.
 
Learn more at SpotlightCalifornia.com.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Looking at the Stars


By Kim Sung-Ku
Gangjeong villager and poet (Jeju Island, South Korea)

The stars which used to shine in my distant memory are still in my heart despite the passing of 50 years.  The river of stars flowing in the Milky Way is a scene which one hardly sees in the modern times running toward development.  One day in April 2007, I was anxious, not knowing what I could do after hearing an unbelievable story about naval base construction in my village.

Now the base has become a reality and the Gureombi rock covered by cement for the base construction has become a memory.  The hill where I flew kites, the ditch where I caught frogs and minnows, and Gureombi rock - the rest area where we used to share food in my childhood disappeared.  And now they have become unbearable to look at with concrete and buildings replacing them.  Totally strange men who kicked out my memories openly stride there.

The true masters of the land have been kicked out.  And now false masters pretend to take their place.  The naval base was nominally built for the development of the village.  But the development has torn the hearts of the villagers to pieces.  The site with the dramatically and luxuriously changed look has now become land where we cannot reach or stand.  Is this progress?

The splendid lights have been taken out from the river of stars in the Milky Way.  The numerous memories of our fathers, their fathers, and their fathers, have now been cut.  The distance between us has also grown.  Alas, I look at the stars and sky with all my last desperate energy.  Today only memory is alive.  I struggle to save that memory, hoping the stars and sky will remain in my heart.....

Socialism No Longer a Dirty Word

 
Despite a concerted effort by the U.S. Empire to snuff out the ideology, a 2016 poll found young Americans have a much more favorable view of socialism than capitalism.

Though he died 133 years ago, the analysis put forward by one of the world’s most influential thinkers, Karl Marx, remains extremely relevant today. The Empire’s recent rigged presidential election has been disrupted by the support of an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, by millions of voters.

To find out why Marx’s popularity has stood the test of time, Abby Martin interviews renowned Marxist economist Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at UMass - Amherst, and visiting professor at the New School in New York.

Prof. Wolff gives an introduction suited for both beginners and seasoned Marxists, with comprehensive explanations of key tenets of Marxism including dialectical and historical materialism, surplus value, crises of overproduction, capitalism's internal contradictions, and more.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Spiritually Disconnected


Native American activist/poet John Trudell (who died in late 2015) talks about how people today are suffering from a broken spirit - disconnected from nature, one another, and the past. We've all lost the tribal wisdom that was part of our ancestry.

We get seduced by the material world that teaches greed, power and unending amounts of possessions.

Walking into the Future


My friend Andy (in the photo) and I lived across the street from one another in Fort Walton Beach in the panhandle of Florida during 1967-1969.  He got me to join Sea Explorers where we had great fun racing canoes, camping, and other wise playing in the surrounding waters.  This hike was my first big organizing experience - our two crews were in competition to see which of them could get the most of their crew members to complete the entire 50-mile survival hike through the Eglin AFB forested bombing range carrying all of our gear during the hot and humid Florida summer. My step-father was stationed there before we moved to Beale AFB in California in the fall of 1969.

My crew got together and planned to carry just the bare essentials.  Andy's crew showed up at the start with ice chests, tents, and first-class eats.  My crew won the contest and Andy and I still laugh over the experience.  I gave him the winning crew patch many years ago.

Sometime back in the 1980's I was speaking in the Palm Beach, Florida area and there sitting in the audience was Andy Schmidt.  It was the first I'd seen him in many years and it was a wonderful moment to see his smiling face in the crowd.

Andy had his hands in many kinds of work over the years and lived in Hawaii for a bit.  On one of my trips about 20 years ago I got to visit with him while speaking on Oahu.  While there we got talking politics and he sounded just like the right-winger roots that grow deep in ultra-conservative northwest Florida.  Our friendship was chilled after that and went dormant.

These days Andy is back in his family home on our old street in Fort Walton Beach.  He is on the Internet all the time and has taken the leap into full-bore progressive politics.  He sends me many links to good articles he comes across and is reading books to catch up after many years of sailing blind.  I am really proud of him - not many people make huge political transitions in their 60's but he has done it.  Just goes to show that people can learn and change.  A good thing for sure!

The best thing though has been to rekindle our friendship - we were really good buddies back in those sea scout days.  To reconnect with Andy has brought us both a joyful memory of our youth and the determination to walk forward to deal with our chaotic future.  That's what friends really do.

Thanks Andy Schmidt!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Fundamentalism in the U.S.

 
The Sen. Ted Cruz treatment from Samantha Bee....

Sunday Music Bonus



Pat Scanlon is a member of the Smedley D. Butler chapter of Veterans for Peace in Boston, MA. On March 17, 2016, St. Patrick’s Day and Pat’s birthday, a special event was held by Midnight Voices featuring a medley of Pat’s songs.

He is a gifted songwriter and banjo player whose songs are poignant, personal and will have audiences joining in the singing. Pat is accompanied by a long-time friend and former musical partner, Holly Gettings. This was Pat’s first public appearance in many years. The audio is fine even though the lighting was something out of our control and less than flattering.

Pat is a life-time member of Veterans for Peace and an incredible organizer of peace events, protests and vigils in the Boston area. He is also a pioneer in recycling in the entire country.

These songs are all copyrighted and used with Pat’s express permission here.

Words above and video by Regis Tremblay

Sunday Song