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 24, 2018

Don't swallow the pro-war hype....

Friday, March 23, 2018

The war hawk cabinet in Washington

The recent changes to Trump's war cabinet are chilling.  His latest pick, adding George W. Bush's Ambassador to the UN John Bolton as the new National Security Adviser, is bad news for the world.

Let's take a quick look at some of the early comments from Asia as people try to assess what may result from such a bad appointment.

After months of painstakingly building a relationship with the departing national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, South Korean officials now have to manage their “very bad chemistry” with Mr. Bolton, “who is all about sticks,” said Lee Byong-chul, senior fellow at the Institute for Peace and Cooperation in Seoul.

“We will have to see if Bolton opens his mouth and launches his verbal attacks against the North,” Mr. Lee said. “That will give North Korea an excuse to step away from its summit proposal. The Trump-Bolton team then will ramp up pressure. And we will hear more talk about a pre-emptive strike and see tensions rising again on the Korean Peninsula.”
The appointment “adds to the perception of the U.S. basically being a headless chicken, which is bad for the world,” said Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo.
In Congress even the weak-kneed opposition Democrats are complaining about Bolton - which is to be expected although many of the Democrats don't really seem to disagree with most of the slash and burn politics that Bolton is famous for.  The recent recycled red-baiting of Russia and China from the so-called 'progressives' is not much different from the kind of talk we've historically heard from Bolton who is most famous for helping to sell Bush's illegal and immoral 'shock and awe' attack of Iraq in 2003.

One of the better Democrats is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) who tweeted:

I've been saying since Trump's election that the one good thing that will come from him will be the acceleration of the collapse of the US military and economic empire.  With appointments like Bolton  Washington's allies around the globe will be left to either join the suicidal march to oblivion or begin to separate themselves from the reckless and corrupt policies coming from Pennsylvania Avenue.

One can only hope that the American people will awaken from their long Rip Van Winkle-like slumbers and stand up against the increasingly dangerous, provocative and destabilizing foreign policies being orchestrated by the US-NATO war machine.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Make GD work for their welfare check

Vietnam veteran Tom Ryan (still fasting) and Cynthia Howard among the 12 of us in the hallway of the state capital today - we will return Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week. 

It was an interesting day today at the capital in Augusta.  Twelve of our campaign supporters were present to hold signs, hand out flyers, and talk to various legislators.

One Democrat state representative came up to me as I was leaning against the wall in the hallway with my sign.  We'd never spoken before.  She was quite concerned about my health and was glad to hear that I had begun to eat.  She said that she intended to vote against the bill.  One more name in the column to oppose this bad bill.

We learned that the Progressive Caucus would meet next Tuesday to discuss LD 1781 and Taxation Committee co-chair Ryan Tipping (D-Orono) will make the case to them in favor of the bill.  This is despite the fact that he has told some of our supporters in his town that he believes it is a 'bad bill' and a 'race to the bottom'.

We are urging a large turnout of Mainers on Tuesday (March 27) from 9:30 am to noon on the 3rd floor of the capital building.  Be sure to bring a sign that says why you oppose this corporate welfare bill.  We'll also be back there on Wednesday and Thursday of next week as the legislature will be in session then as well.

One of our advisers today shared with us that the Democrats in the legislature are quite vulnerable now as they attack Gov. LePage for his decision to insert a bill that would conform (or match) Maine with Trump's federal tax bill that recently passed in Washington.  (Of course the Dems should oppose LePage's effort to copy Trump's give-a-way to the rich and corporations.)  But for the Dems in Maine to oppose LePage's 'conformity' tax bill and then turn around and support giving $45 million to General Dynamics is the height of hypocrisy.  So the Dems in Augusta have put themselves in a real moral, ethical and political bind.

The alternative we are told is for the Dems to try to hide (or merge) this bad corporate welfare bill for GD into another bill that is more favorable to their constituency base - like Medicaid expansion.  So keep your eyes and ears peeled for this kind of sausage making.

In the end we must step up the pressure on all the legislators.  Both Republicans and Democrats must continue to hear from Mainers.  Each of us must become organizers during these remaining days as this special legislative session nears its last couple of weeks.  Be sure to say that you oppose LD 1781 in any form.

Please do what you can to remain in solidarity with the 43,000 children living in poverty across our financially strapped state.

Thanking you in advance for your support to help save Mainers $45 million.


Stand up, speak up, fight for the children's future!

Video by Regis Tremblay

John Dear says, "Everyone of us is needed."

See his recent talk here in Maine by clicking here

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

My first bite.....

Contact your Maine legislators here

Recorded by Regis Tremblay

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Day 37: Back to Augusta & ending hunger strike



We had sixteen of us this morning with signs inside the 'lobbyist staging area' on the 3rd floor of the capital between the House and Senate chambers.

Lots of kids were there from various schools across the state so they got a real lesson in 'democracy'.  One of the teachers made an interested young girl return our flyer to us - not allowed in her school we supposed.

Our group - very ordinary Mainers - seemed to change the vibe in the hallway and many of us remarked that we felt a discernible shift in the attitude of many of the legislators toward us.  Several stopped to tell us they are with us - including a kind Republican legislator who has told me this three times.

A state senator from the Brunswick area told one of his constituents in our group that he has received more contact on LD 1781 than any other issue since he has been in office.  So you are getting their attention - don't stop now!

My own state senator - one of the sponsors of the bill - approached and told me that "We need you all here."  I took it as a compliment of the campaign's effectiveness.

This afternoon from 4:00-5:00 pm the community radio station WERU in East Orland (almost three hours north of Bath) had several of us from the campaign on the air to discuss the GD corporate welfare bill.  Host Amy Browne did an excellent job of weaving Lawrence Reichard, Alex Nunes, Lisa Savage, Bob Klotz, Jessica Stewart and myself into the discussion.

We covered most of the key points but VFP member Peter Morgan wrote me after the show and said he was standing by to call in and wanted to say, "BIW has refused to [prove] a financial justification for their [request] for financial assistance."  But they took no calls today since there were so many of us on the show.

Last night I woke in the middle of the night feeling dizzy and way out of sorts.  MB got me some juice but I didn't sleep well after that.  My body was talking to me - quite loudly.

So today I consulted with one of my medical advisers (Bob Klotz) and determined that I would end my hunger strike on this 37th day.  Others will continue the solidarity fast under the steady coordination of Mary Kate Small.  Our friend Tom Ryan continues his fasting now into the 15th day or so and he will go until day 20.

We also got confirmation that our advert began today on WGAN radio in southern Maine.  It will run for a week - four times a day.  One of our friends actually heard it on the air.

We feel like we have done well but need a strong surge as we near the end of this campaign.  Our biggest need is to get more new folks to contact their state legislators about their opposition to LD 1781.  We are asking all of our supporters to find five new folks who have not yet called and have them contact their representatives in Augusta.  We offer this handy tool and thank David Swanson for putting this effective vehicle in our hands.  See it here

So I will reenter the eating world slowly and mindfully - experts say at least four days are needed to do this.

I will return to the 3rd floor corridor with my sign on Thursday at 9:30 am and then again next week on Tuesday and Thursday.

In the meantime I am giving my heart and soul to defeating this bad bill.


Photos by Peter Woodruff (retired BIW worker)