Friday, November 27, 2020

Cloud Of Darkness Over Future Of US Still Led By Warmongers

"Cloud of darkness" was trending on Twitter when I got up this morning. It means one thing to gamers but this boomer couldn't help but feel it probably was a reference to our collective future governed by the president-elect's cabinet picks.

Putting female warmongers in prominent roles to please Democrats already trained to regard the warmongering Hillary Clinton as a desirable "leader" is absolutely unsurprising. What's only mildly surprising is the weak, insincere protestations sponsored on corporate media outlets like CNN and MSNBC. 

Cutting the mic of commentators who question the wisdom of appointing, say, Rahm Emmanuel, is entirely in character for these manufacturers of consent.

Because if you're trying to spin neoliberals as progressives, muting the pushback is essential.

To get back to my original point, trying to spin corporate hacks who peddle weapons to Israel and Saudi Arabia while unwilling US taxpayers pick up the tab as feminists is laughable. Well, it would be laughable if it didn't fool so many liberals. Identity politics has been a potent management tool for keeping the brunch eating masses stupefied while the soul and treasury of the US is hollowed out by austerity to pay for endless wars.

Real feminist leaders like Kathy Kelly have been speaking out during this transition on the urgency of ending the 19 year war on Afghanistan.

link to video on YouTube if embed does not work for you

Here's she's joined by moderator Ann Wright, another peace leader, as well as Matthew Hoh, Rory Fanning, Danny Sjursen, and Arash Azizzada to discuss the prospects of this happening before Biden gets into the White House.

Democrats in Congress and generals at the Pentagon are putting up resistance, of course. If the cash doesn't flow to weapons manufacturers, how will the campaign contributions and/or cushy corporate posts flow?

When you're in the weapons business -- as the US government surely is -- endless wars is your go-to marketing scheme.

But the current occupant of the White House has shown less business acumen than some expected. Instead, he has appeared to focus on his image. Challenges like managing a public health crisis resulted in fatal damage to his persona as leader, but the remaining weeks do offer some opportunities for legacy repair.

Ending the war in Afghanistan (which Obama promised to do but never did) could be just the ticket. 

Pardoning Julian Assange, jailed in the UK for the crime of actual journalism on Obama's watch and since, would also be a winning move and, as an in-your-face to his rival and predecessor, likely to appeal to the outgoing chief executive.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thankful For You All

Native people and their friends find it a cruel irony that colonizers celebrate gratitude on a day connected with their displacement from their homelands. I've heard them wondering how a group so determined to depopulate, deforest, and pollute could be said to be thankful in any meaningful sense of the word. How is it possible to be thankful for attempted genocide? 

I'm grateful that Native people are still here, and that I've had the opportunity to hear their teachings about how to live respectfully on this planet. May we all heed their wisdom before it's too late.

If you read my blog from time to time, I'm thankful for you. You care about the war against the poor at home and abroad and likely take action to end those wars and bring justice to bear. Thank you.

If you were one of the 40,000+ people who voted for me to represent Maine in the US Senate, I'm thankful for you. You voted for a candidate independent of corporate influence, with Green values and a Green platform aimed at honoring and upholding life over profits. Thank you.

If you were one of the 1,400+ people in one of 47 states who donated to our campaign, I'm thankful for you. You expressed your confidence in our campaign's goals with resources you had, whether it was $1 or several thousand. Thank you!

If you were one of the 200+ people who volunteered on our campaign, I'm thankful for you. Without your skills and your belief that we can make a difference in our world we would not have been able to do much of what we accomplished. Hundreds of thousands of people heard our message of the need for government on behalf of people, planet, and peace because of your efforts. Thank you!

If you were one of the 20+ paid staffers on the Lisa for Maine campaign, I'm grateful to you. You gave far more of your time and your compassionate wisdom than we were able to pay you for, and you often brought your friends and associates along, too. We would never have earned 5% of the vote in Maine without your diligence and focus. Thank you!

If you are a member of my family, I'm grateful for your support, encouragement, donations (especially the in-kind donations of your expert work) and love. I couldn't have put in 14 months of concerted effort without the foundation of your love and confidence. When you said you were proud of me, that meant more than any accolade from the public. Thank you!

In this period of rest and reflection on my personal goals, my gratitude abounds. Thanks to everyone who went on working for a better world before, during, and after our grassroots campaign. Thanks to everyone who has sent me messages of appreciation for the role I played. You know for sure that I will keep on keeping on though the path is yet undetermined.

Finally, if you're a health care worker putting your life on the line constantly to keep the rest of us safe, I'm grateful for you. I'll do everything I can to stay out of your hospital so those who need medical care can receive it, and those who give medical care can stave off total exhaustion. I'm with Banksy, you all are superheros (even if you don't wear capes like they do in England).

Thursday, November 19, 2020

US Drones Still Kill And Terrorize People Around The World, And A Few People Care

Source: VFP Madison website

I will not be enthused about the warmongering Democratic Party reclaiming the White House. They, along with Republicans, and Independents like my Senator Angus King, have voted for higher and higher military budgets used to execute people without judge or jury involvement. The judge only gets involved penalizing the few brave and hardy souls who put their bodies on the line to bring attention to this moral travesty performed at the US taxpayers' expense.

Here's a report back from Wisconsin on the trial of some of a group of seven who resisted the continued use of flying killer robots to terrorize children and their families: Bonnie Block, Joyce Ellwanger, Joy First, Bob Graf, Jim Murphy, Phil Runkel, all of Wisconsin and Brian Terrell, of Iowa. All were arrested for trespass on November 12, 2019, in a protest at Volk Field, a Wisconsin Air National Guard base that trains personnel to operate the RQ-7 Shadow Drone. 

Source: VFP Madison report on denied motion to delay trial due to covid

Report from Bob Graf

Reflexive Justice

Today [November 16, 2020] Phi Runkel, Catholic Worker Archivist, and I were convicted of trespassing on the Volk field military base in Juneau County, Wisconsin on November 12, 2019.

The court procedure reminded me of the military training of soldiers, to kill reflexively without the use of conscience. 


Volk Field is a training base for the RQ-7 shadow drones base.  These are small drones that set up the operation of Killer Drones and the killing by Apache Helicopters in the eight wars that the US is engaged in presently.    A statement we gave at the time when we entered the base is attached.

Five of the seven of us who entered the base, due to serious Covid 19 concerns were not present for the trial at Juneau County Courthouse.   Those not present had sent the judge statements of why they were not there and why they entered the base that day.  The Judge quickly dismissed their concerns and order them convicted of trespassing and they were fined.

The district attorney then presented the case against Phil and me.  He had two defense witnesses, a security chief for the base and a Sheriff’s deputy who had issued the trespassing citations.  He also showed on a large screen a body cam the deputy had taken of our arrest.

When it came to our testimony we were warned by the Judge that he would show some leeway but that he should stick to the issue of trespass as he narrowly defined it.  Both our testimonies were based on religious convictions of conscience.  Phil tried to bring in international law and testimony of others, including Ramsey Clark, the former attorney general of the USA.  Our testimonies were constantly interrupted by the Judge and considered not relevant.  We both got about ½ to ¾ of our testimony (attached below) 

During our testimonies and after the Judge kept saying how he agreed with some of our values and convictions but they were not relevant to the trial.  This reminded me of my research on “reflexive killing” the practice of training a soldier to kill on instinct or, command orders without consideration for conscience.  Now I know why a panel of military command officers refused to consider a Catholic West Point’s ethic teacher’s plea to have them state that “reflexive killing was justified.  Despite the terrible toll this type of killing played on the minds of returning veterans they could not admit of the harm this practice played.  They just ignored it as we largely ignore the killing by drones in the eight US wars of today.  

When Phil tried to state that the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg declared that “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual State” he was cut off.  

The Judge said over and over again that he understood and sympathized with our views but that they had nothing to do, like reflexive killing with our trial.  Society, politicians and media ask us, like the Judge to separate our conscience from our action of killing on reflex or by drone.  We had just witnessed the court version of reflexive killing, Justice without conscience.  I pray for all drone operators, their victims and all of us who are silent to drone killing. 


From: Max Obuszewski <>


 When I go to court to challenge my arrest for protesting, I play a lawyer.  However, I am far from an expert in law.


Nevertheless, I do know that besides being immoral, U.S. killer drone strikes are unconstitutional.  A drone pilot is the judge, the jury and the executioner.  The victim is denied due process as s/he has been denied the right to challenge in court the evidence amassed against this individual determined to be a “terrorist.”


How does this argument get into a court of law? Several of us, including Joy First, filed a complaint against killer drone strikes with the U.S. Attorney in Alexandria, Virginia.  Outside of a two-hour meeting with two U.S. attorneys, our complaint went nowhere.  

Let me know if you have a strategy to get a court that would entertain the notion that U.S. killer drone strikes are illegal?


Kagiso, Max

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Corporate Parties, Media Selling Civil War -- But The People Need Revolution

The constant yammering about what divides us is an enormous smokescreen intended to obscure that which really divides us. As Liz Theoharis writes in "The New Politics of the Poor..."

Today, in the early winter of an uncurbed pandemic and the economic crisis that accompanies it, there are 140 million poor or low-income Americans, disproportionately people of color, but reaching into every community in this country: 24 million Blacks, 38 million Latinos, eight million Asians, two million Native peoples, and 66 million whites. More than a third of the potential electorate, in other words, has been relegated to poverty and precariousness and yet how little of the political discourse in recent elections was directed at those who were poor or one storm, fire, job loss, eviction, or healthcare crisis away from poverty and economic chaos. In the distorted mirror of public policy, those 140 million people have remained essentially invisible. 

White boomers like me are most easily confused by this barrage of propaganda. We lived through a period of relative prosperity for ourselves and our neighbors, and a whole bunch of lies about those who didn't share our prosperity.

Allegedly, the poor of my lifetime were lazy, or addicted to substances, or poorly parented by elders who were lazy or addicted. Plenty of photos of Black and brown faces accompanied the "investigative" reporting on the failed life in the segregated communities targeted by the war on drugs that was really a war on the poor. Or crime reporting about arrests that always seemed to have a Black or brown face featured despite the fact that crime rates among white people are higher.

Where were the reports on how Black veterans did not receive the GI benefits that allowed my father to complete a college education and buy a house for me to grow up in?

Where were the reports on the redlining by mortgage lenders and real estate brokers that kept Black families from moving into the neighborhoods I grew up in?

Where were the living wage jobs with union protections for working conditions available to Black and brown wage earners my father never had to compete with?

Photo credit Steven Depolo, Flickr

Where was the income for unpaid caregivers like the moms, aunties, and grandmothers that raised children in substandard housing and had to send them to substandard schools nearby?

Where were the reports on how highly addictive crack cocaine was sponsored by the CIA and deliberately introduced into segregated neighborhoods?

Where was the universal health care to treat substance use disorders like health issues rather than criminalizing and filling prisons with enslaved laborers disenfranchised from their right to vote?

Young people today understand the reality of the situation much better than most boomers, even when they are part of the dominant white caste. A common slogan I see them sharing --

No war but class war 

-- expresses this understanding. 

Note that this graph is from before the pandemic, which has greatly accelerated income inequality in the US.

Because the rich got so much richer and the poor got so much poorer in the last several decades, it takes a whole lot of propaganda to convince poor whites that what's wrong with their lives is brown immigrants taking "their" jobs. Or the Black Lives Matter movement. Or, more to the point, that liberals are the problem.

There is some truth to that and it fuels the furor to "own the libs" that the demagogue with bad hair rode to the White House.

In the crash of 2008 when banks got bailed out but regular working people got sold out, there was a liberal presiding over it all. His VP, now our president-elect, had previously been the architect of the student loan crisis that younger people continue being crushed by.

It's clear that our corporate overlords, the ones who own the media and the means of production, are ginning up a civil war. Their invisible strategy: make sure the masses kill each other over culture rather than turning on the 1% and removing them from positions of power so that the people can eat.

There's a reason the guillotine has become a common image in social media shared by the young. Also the slogan, Eat the rich.

But this history major will never advocate violent revolution. Wars, including revolutions, harm many innocent people, most often children and the women who care for them.

A general strike would be much more to the point. No wealth can be created without our labor. That is our greatest power. 

No propaganda can change the fact that Jeff Bezos could give every person who risks covid exposure to work in his Amazon warehouses an entire year's salary as a bonus and still have more money than he did when the pandemic started. And, no propaganda can change the fact that, if they went on strike, his income from that source would dry up quickly.

But we are too broke to strike! young people tell me. I believe them. I also know that every strike that brought down a regime was mounted by people who lacked the resources to survive without income. Mutual aid -- another thing young people are good at, putting most boomers to shame -- is the cure for that ailment.

But the ruling class will bring the violence if there is a general strike, is another argument I've heard against it. But isn't dire poverty, homelessness, and lack of health care for working class people violent? Isn't a lifetime of student debt violent? Isn't mass incarceration and the routine execution of unarmed Black people by police violent?

Certainly our endless wars for resource extraction and transport are violent. Think Afghanistan, Ecuador, and Standing Rock just for starters.

Who knows how a general strike will start, or whether I'll live long enough to see it. 

Mass uprisings are often set off by a spark no one expected. 

Will it begin with a rent strike? A nurses strike? The pandemic has put a lot of pressure on both renters and frontline health care providers. Once a specific strike is underway, others who are economically desperate may be motivated to join in.

Remember, the Mongtomery, Alabama bus boycott of the civil rights movement was planned to last one day, intended to demonstrate how much the city bus system needed the revenue from Black customers. It lasted more than a year as that first day inspired the weary, the timid, and the fencesitters to join in.

It was also, most significantly, supported by extensive organizing in advance.

Let's get busy.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

International right wing death cult

The Independent

There are two reasons I was relieved that Biden-Harris won the recent election. First, Black people (and Native people, and Latinx people) expressed how dangerous it felt to have the demagogue with bad hair urging violence against them by his disaffected white supremacist followers. (The fact that two architects of the carceral state and the ultra racist "war on drugs" represent relief for BIPOC is emblematic of the catastrophic racism foundational to our way of life in the USA. Not to mention the warmongering against brown people around the planet.)

The second reason I was relieved is that I am anticipating the end of headlines like this one from yesterday:

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Source: Lewiston Sun Journal

At this point you may be wondering,

What do Maine's COVID-19 transmission rates have to do with who's in the White House?

Thinking about the campaign that just concluded, I am remembering several photographs and headlines:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pence-rally-hermon.jpg
Source: The Telegraph reporting on VP Pence's rally in Hermon, Maine Oct. 19

Mills ‘disappointed’ coronavirus guidelines weren’t followed at Pence rally

Hundreds gathered in Hermon on Monday for a ‘MAGA’ rally hosted by VP Mike Pence; Gov. Mills said she was “disappointed” and “saddened” by what she saw at the rally.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Gov. Janet Mills voiced her disappointment of the Vice President over the “Make America Great Again!” rally in Hermon earlier this week, where hundreds—many not wearing masks—gathered for the outdoor rally.

At the Maine CDC coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, Mills said she was “disappointed” and “saddened” by what she saw at the rally—large crowds, little to no social distancing, and scant mask-wearing among attendees.

One rally causing that much of an uptick in COVID cases three weeks later? Hard to believe.

But of course it wasn't just one rally. Multiple rallies for GOP candidates in places other than Hermon like Bangor, Saco, Levant, etc. saw crowds gathering from around the state, unmasked, and not socially distancing. Most of the rallies were to secure that one electoral college vote from Maine's 2nd district. They succeeded, but was the price for the people of Maine worth it?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screenshot-2020-11-12-at-7.54.04-am.png
Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center

Academic research has demonstrated that nations with authoritarian oligarchic governments, like the US, Russia and Brazil, have failed miserably at containing the pandemic. Meanwhile countries led by socially-minded governments like New Zealand, Australia, and China have done best.

Maine is still full of people defiantly unmasked despite the governor's executive orders intended to keep more of us healthy and alive. I'm home in the 2nd district now that my own campaign has ended, and I don't dare go into the local store or post office.

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I'm not overly optimistic about the new regime's ability to get a raging pandemic under control because they are deeply committed to keeping the profit motive in our failed system of health care. Only people can change that, probably by mounting a general strike until they get universal health care like Medicare for All.

In the meantime, I believe epidemiologists. I'm willing to wear a mask, cancel social events, and take extra precautions because I want to live to see my grandchildren grow and thrive. Don't you?

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Our Work Continues

Analysis using data from OpenSecrets by volunteer Brennan Barrington who commented, "As extreme as the difference looks, it's actually an understatement of the cost for the major party candidates, given how much was spent by outside groups not affiliated with the campaigns themselves."

This morning it does look like the US will have a new president. The clown president the corporate media elected last time turned out to have too many liabilities in a public health crisis (now beginning its second peak and already worse than the first peak here in Maine).

He did what he was hired to do, though, which was entertain and distract the masses from ongoing plunder by their corporate overlords. The new guy has always been a willing helper for the plunder project, but will surely be far less entertaining. Also, the new guy is elderly with occasional signs of dementia. His vice president, the first woman in that role, is widely presumed to be both an Obama-like figure -- an attractive, articulate, bi-racial presence that offers her liberal white supporters that coveted "get out of racism free" card without giving up an ounce of their white comfort and privilege -- and a VP most likely to succeed to the White House.

Will stochastic violence continue to be urged from the White House? Probably not. 

Will the Black Lives Matter movement that arose during the tenure of our first Black president continue to take to the streets demanding an end to police murder of Black men, women, and children? No doubt. 

Hamdia Ahmed of Black Lives Matter Portland delivers my closing statement in 4th debate

I take comfort in the fact that the Black thinkers I read and listen to mostly agreed on yearning for an end to the encouragement and empowerment of overt white supremacy by the demagogue with bad hair. I'm not in a position to deny their assertion that they and their loved ones will be a little safer going about their daily business. I also understand that institutional racism is pervasive and dangerous, and damaging to everyone's children.

While all eyes were fixed on the counting of absentee ballot received late through deliberate malfeasance on the part of senior management at the US Postal Service, our own Maine senate race concluded counting the 40,012 votes I earned running as a senator for people, planet, and peace. When all monies raised are finally reported to the FEC the chart above can be updated, but the final version is likely to show similar metrics in terms of cost per vote.

The incumbent advantage, i.e. who brings home the warship contract bacon, helped Senator Susan Collins squeak by with a majority in the first round of counting. Many of us were disappointed that ranked choice voting instant runoff rounds did not ensue, but the weak performance of the Democrat meant that even if all voters for me and the other independent Max Linn had gone to Sara Gideon -- a highly unlikely scenario -- Collins still would have beaten her.

The GOP did a good job of turning out Trump voters in Maine and while voters were there they appeared to flip from undecided (a choice which polled between 6-9% consistently) to voting for Collins, likely not for the first time. 

Whether the Project Veritas video interviewing me secretly about my 2nd amendment policies resulted in more turnout for Trump or even Collins is unknown; it was late in the game, and there's really no way of knowing if the death threats in the comments section came from actual Maine voters or, more likely, from paid trolls in other locations.

As we knew it would, our work continues. The movement to elect a senator for the people attracted scores of true believers, and getting to know them and their wise hearts was the best part of this arduous experience. Many of the elders in my base I had known and organized with for years, pushing back against the mammoth military funding that makes it so we can't have nice things we need like universal health care. Many of the younger folks came to our campaign from others like climate action, and electoral campaigns for progressive candidates the Democratic Party was never going to nominate. 

Link to video on YouTube if embed doesn't work for you.

Their creativity and youthful enthusiasm were just what we needed as we approached the finish line!

I am and have long been an information worker, believing as I do that information control is the foundation of this rotten system that's killing life on our planet. I agreed to run for elected office because I hoped it would elevate some truth as corporate media would be obliged to convey what I said. 

Cartoon by Forest Taber,

The four senate debates particularly fulfilled that hope, and even the fifth debate that the Hearst Corporation kept me out of provided a platform with 8,600 views of the video documenting my attempt to be included. 

(Sorry, only available on Facebook.)

That night, 33 of us stood in the rain outside ABC-affiliate WMTW in Westbrook trying to deliver a petition with 2,600 or so signatures saying "Let Lisa debate." After laying the petition on the wet ground because the employee designated to turn me away would not accept it, we circled up and shared our appreciation for the effort and for each other. It had been a long campaign trail that was ending in days. I was footsore, very tired, and out past my usual bedtime, but lifted up by the love and gratitude for being "home" among so many wise hearts.

Our work continues. The movement we built deserves a place to thrive and I'm already at work building such a place. Our volunteer celebration next weekend will close out this chapter of my activism as a new chapter begins to unfold.

With my youngest endorser, "Girl on Fire" Fiona and family.


Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Lisa for Maine campaign. Stay tuned!