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
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.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Day 35: Let's build for the future

Sub-headline: Moving from solitary anger to collective strength

Let's build
sky scrapers to the sky?
rockets to Mars?
more warships?
how about
a sustainable future?
for the kids....

Let's build unity
amongst the people

people rage
because they feel
left behind

Let's build solidarity
caring for
one another
one another
setting political party
what comes first
collective needs
leave no one behind

Let's build
stronger hearts
deeper love
forgiving spirits

Let's learn
honest reflection
of self
and current events
sorting through

Let's try
another way
than we've been
to believe

My Sunday prayer....


Propaganda alert: Who named the Russian missile Satan?

Just to illustrate how the brainwashing works in the west - let's take a look at the so-called 'Satan 2'  Russian missile.

In an article from the UK web site called Metro, they report:

Russia is to test its newest and largest ever nuclear missile – capable of wiping out an area twice the size of Britain.

The weapon, called the Satan 2, is more than 3,000 times more powerful than the bomb that wiped out Hiroshima and is said to be virtually undetectable.

I've repeatedly seen mainstream media throughout the west call this missile Satan 2.  At first I assumed this is what Russia had named it - but I was skeptical and wanted to get to the bottom of this.  Obviously it is in the US-NATO's interest to have the public think 'those nasty Russians worship Satan and just want to kill us all so we'd better hit them first'.

The other day I was watching Putin's NBC interview and he addressed this.  He told Megyn Kelly that the Russians did not name the missile Satan 2, but 'your country did'.  The Russians named the missile RS-28 Sarmat.  (Sarmat is short for The Sarmatians who were a large Iranian confederation that existed in classical antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD.)

A Florida media site got right to the fake news point suggesting that Putin had named the missile Satan:

According to Putin, the new intercontinental missile can fly at 20 times the speed of sound to anywhere in the world and can not be intercepted by "any antimissile system on Earth."
He's dubbed the new weapon "Satan 2" and said it gives Russia the advantage in case of a nuclear attack, allowing it to be the aggressor.

An NBC story about the Putin-Kelly interview acknowledges where the Satan name come from - but you have to get to the last paragraph of the long article to see it:

The missile is intended to replace the R-36 Voevoda, which NATO has dubbed "Satan," leading the United States to call the new version "Satan 2." Russian media said in 2016 that the RS-28 Sarmat would be able to carry a payload capable of wiping out a landmass "the size of Texas or France."

So this is how the demonization game goes.  Very deceptive.  And we are only able to figure out this kind of bullshit if we read/watch a wide variety of international media sources - including Russian.  If we are just reading American media then we are likely filling our heads with all kinds of corporate propaganda.

I heard years ago that you should always start every article with the first and the last paragraphs before reading the rest of the article.  Makes sense.


Sunday Song

Saturday, March 17, 2018

GD stock buybacks

General Dynamics bought back $14.4 billion of their own stocks from 2009-2017 driving up market value. They paid their CEO $21 million in 2016.

They don't need $45 million from Maine.

Day 34: Lenten vigil at BIW today


Photos by Peter Woodruff (retired BIW worker)

Bob Klotz rode his bicycle to BIW again from South Portland against a heavy wind and extreme cold.  It took him about four hours.  That is commitment.

Incredible letter to editor by BIW worker

In Support of Activists and the First Amendment

Times Record Letters (Brunswick)

Today’s lesson (and it is a hard one): I have worked at BIW since 1986 and I love my job, but I worry about its future. People worry about their jobs and worry about the future of our state and the world in general. And all I want to say is we have to be prepared to listen, really listen to each other. And educate ourselves, there is always more than one side to a story. And to let ALL sides speak about their fears, hopes, and expectations. To be open to other opportunities that present themselves, we do not have to be only a ship building company, there’s a brand new world out there and we should not be afraid to experience it.

Thanks to Bruce and company. You’re good people.

Patricia Messier,

Day 34: Others are fasting to stop GD welfare bill

Vietnam veteran Tom Ryan from Oquossoc, Maine is fasting in solidarity to defeat the GD corporate welfare bill.  As of today he has not eaten for the past 13 days and vows to continue until the bill is voted on by the entire legislature.  On Thursday while in Augusta standing between the two legislative chambers he said, "I joined the service to make this country better.  Our taxes need to go for human welfare – not for corporate welfare. I will continue to fast until this is over."

Mary Kate Small (Camden) has been keeping a schedule of Mainers and others from away who are fasting in solidarity with our efforts to defeat this bad bill in Augusta (LD 1781). She has recorded that at least 30 others have gone without food for a day or more since February 12 when I started my hunger strike.

On February 12 Boryana Tacconi (Andover, Massachusetts) heard I was beginning the hunger strike and joined me for the first 20 days.  Yesterday we received a message from Jeju Island, South Korea where artist and peace activist Choi Sung-Hee wrote that she would fast next Tuesday (March 20) and Thursday (March 22) when I return to the state capital to again stand against this corporate give-away.  Regina Pyon from Seoul will also fast on March 20.

Mary Kate informs us that she has fasters all over Maine scheduled through the end of March and beyond if needed.

I thank all of those who have gone without food as we all stand in complete solidarity with the 43,000 children across our poor state who live in poverty.  If the elected officials in Augusta won't stand up and fight for the kids against this mega-rich corporation that had $3 billion in profits last year then we surely must.

And we will continue to daily do every thing we can to defeat LD 1781.  Keep these dollars in Maine for the huge needs that are currently going unmet because of lack of funds.

GD don't need our money.  They already get boatloads of it from the federal government in their Navy contracts to build destroyers at BIW.


Friday, March 16, 2018

Day 33: We need to build unity and solidarity

Christine DeTroy from PeaceWorks in Brunswick shows the misleading headline in local paper.  Makes it sound like the fight is over - it's not.  The local paper has been outsourced to BIW/GD.  Just last week the editor of the paper cancelled a twice a month Op-Ed that Peaceworks had for the past three years - done in reaction to the campaign to stop GD corporate welfare bill in Augusta. (Photo by Martha Spiess)

  • Alot of people are asking me if I think the US is trying to start a war with Russia.  I respond that the US and NATO want regime change in Moscow and Beijing.  And our government is greedy enough, deceitful enough, desperate enough and vicious enough to go to war to try to reach that end.  It's pure insanity to even consider the thought.

  • All this daily - non-stop - demonization of Putin and Russia should be familiar.  It is the modus operandi (MO) of a killer nation.  We heard the same story in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.  Demonization and then attack.  The US and NATO are willing to go to war for control of everything and everyone on this planet. It is arrogance and evil wrapped into one package.

  • I did an interview with Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers today on their podcast show called Clearing the Fog at  We talked about our campaign going on in Maine and they asked what kind of product should be built at BIW.  I responded as I always do that our biggest problem in the world today is climate change.  Our weather here is all messed up like most places around the globe.  We've long been calling for the conversion of Bath Iron Works to build commuter rail systems, offshore wind turbines and tidal power systems.  We have a short chance to have some impact on global warming - but the public must become vocal now rather than resigning themselves to no human future on Earth.

  • Due to Trump's 'Space Force' announcement I've done some radio interviews in the last few days.  Last year the House of Representatives voted to pass a bill to create a separate military service just for space.  The Senate voted the bill down in Washington.  The Air Force is opposed to the idea - they want to control the seamless web between the Earth and deep space.  The aerospace industry sees big opportunity for profit by expanding military space operations and has much influence on Capital Hill.  They are strongly pushing the bill and likely got to Trump.

  • The Pentagon has been saying for many years that Star Wars will be the most expensive industrial project in human history.  There will be no money for anything else.  That is why we see them going after Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid these days.  They have to defund virtually everything in order to pay for the new arms race in space.  We've got to show how one issue here is linked to the other - the deadly connections  Many organizers stay in their silos and don't share the full picture with the public.  A big organizing mistake.  We need to build unity and solidarity.

  • Tomorrow is the weekly Lenten vigil at BIW just down the street from here at 11:30 am.  People from around the state gather and hold signs calling for disarmament, human needs and conversion of BIW to sustainable technology.  Studies show we'd get more jobs at places like BIW if we built anything other than weapons.  Military spending is capital intensive.  Every other kind of production is labor intensive.  The Pentagon says that America's role in the world today is 'security export'.  That means endless war.  You are the citizen - you decide which way things should go.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Day 32: Speaking out against corporate welfare in Augusta

Video by Regis Tremblay

Thanks to Bob Klotz for suggesting we do the news conference and helping to organize it.

Day 32: Holding vigil against this 'bad bill' inside the capital

Photo by Regis Tremblay

We had about 17 of us this morning in the 3rd floor capital hallway between the House and Senate chambers in Augusta.  Even Darth Vader made an appearance holding a sign that declared his love for LD 1781 - the corporate welfare bill for General Dynamics.

We held a news conference at 11:00 am and got an interview on TV CH 8 and a call later from The Forecaster newspaper.  The also covered us and Carol McCracken who runs that site said she has been getting excellent responses in Portland to her recent reporting on this campaign.  Our two alternative media cameramen/filmmakers Peter Woodruff (retired BIW worker) and Regis Tremblay also covered the event and will make a video report which I will post on the blog.

I really felt the power of our presence in the capital hallway today.  I am convinced that it is forcing this bill to stay front and center in their consciousness as the legislature faces massive human and infrastructure funding needs this year in Maine. They all know that GD does not need our feeble $45 million but they clearly understand that our state desperately needs these funds.  These elected officials need to be reminded by every Maine citizen to vote against this 'bad bill'.  So keep your calls and emails going to your legislators.  And please get friends, neighbors and relatives to do the same.

As of today we've had 118 letters, Op-Eds, radio and TV interviews in 25 Maine media outlets.  (There is a good chance we've missed a few as well.)  Your letters need to continue now more than ever.  The bigger papers are saying they've covered this issue widely on their editorial pages and are slowing down the placement of your letters.

Thus it's time to send letters to the weeklies.  Often times we don't think to prioritize the weeklies but that is a strategic mistake.  Many people long ago stopped subscribing to the daily papers to save money and pick up the weeklies for their news.  Some of the weeklies have larger distribution than the daily papers.

Quaker activist Leslie Manning stood next to me in the hallway holding a sign.  She knows most of the Democratic party legislators and got hugs from many of them.  I asked her to share a few observations from the day.  Here they are:

I was very encouraged by the response to your witness that I saw today in Augusta.  Despite what we are told, most of our friends and neighbors who serve in our legislature do want to make things better and have a hard time holding their noses and voting for a bad bill.  Regardless of party, there are many up there who oppose crony capitalism (as the R's call it) or inequitable distribution of wealth (the D's).  If they engage with each other, they comprise a majority.  I hope that continued communications from their constituents will bring them together to vote against the  GD tax giveaway.  You still can't put lipstick on this pig and call it pretty.  Preti, [Flaherty] perhaps, but not pretty.

How ironic that when the give-a-way bill was first heard, we observed the Maine DOT ask for $60 million in taxes to address the overdue infrastructure needs of our large, poor, rural state.  Today's irony at Taxation Committee was the hearing scheduled for the Gov's "tax conformity" bill.  He is seeking to make Maine tax code mimic the US Congress giveaway to the rich and the corporations at the expense of the rest of us, especially our most vulnerable.  It's "do as I say, not as I do" time for the D's; pulling out all the stops to oppose the Trump, Too Tax Code while handing out the same to GD.

But it doesn't have to be this "race to the bottom".  Keep the pressure on, keep the cards, emails and LTE's coming--make our representatives do the right thing, because it is the right thing - for Maine, her people and our democracy.  Solidarity then, solidarity now and solidarity forever.


I will return to stand in the hallway at the capital next Tuesday (March 20) and Thursday (March 22) from 9:30 am to noon - weather permitting.

Let's keep it's for a good cause.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Day 31: Heading back to Augusta in the morning

We will be returning to the state capital in Augusta at 9:30 am tomorrow.  We've had two days in a row of snow cancellations across Maine.  It's been a rough patch of weather.

We'll hold signs and hand out flyers on the 3rd floor of the capital building between the House and Senate chambers while they are in session.

We've also announced a news conference there on the 3rd floor for 11:00 am.  We'd like to provide the media with our reactions to the Taxation Committee cutting the proposed corporate tax break to General Dynamics by 25% to $45 million over 15 years.  We remain opposed to the bill in its entirety.

Secondly we'd like to comment on the story about the S6 (Machinists) union at BIW declining to endorse the bill.  That is a big deal and we've yet to see it covered by Maine media with the exception of The Free Press out of Rockland.  I wonder why it is being ignored?

Last night I dreamt about food - various kinds of lovely pizza.  My energy level is dropping still and my head continues to get a bit fuzzier each day.  I'm still drinking water with lemon, fruit juices, broth, and fruit smoothies made for me by MB.  I've lost over 16 pounds but our scale does not work so well.  My arms and legs have gotten quite thin.

The best thing about this hunger strike is that it has given me the feeling of serenity I've needed to get through this very intense campaign which has now lasted for two months.

I'm truly grateful for all the Mainers who have worked so hard to make this a successful effort.  It's not over yet - we'll give it all we have until the end.