Sunday, January 30, 2022

'War With Russia Would Be Insane'

Check out this interview of someone who has traveled to Ukraine, Crimea, and Russia and knows people there. Bruce Gagnon is the coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space and is interviewed here by Brian Leonard in Portland, Maine.

"War with Russia would be insane."


All photos are mine from the NO WAR IN UKRAINE demonstration Friday, January 28 on several street corners in Portland, Maine.


If the embedded video doesn't show up for you, here's a link to it on Youtube:

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Ukraine: Biden Administration’s 'Wag the Dog' Diversionary War? Asks Black Alliance For Peace

Full disclosure: I support the Black Alliance for Peace with a (very modest) monthly donation which I recently doubled. I admire their work and you can support them, too, by going here.

For immediate Release

Media Contact
(202) 643-1136

Ukraine: Biden Administration’s “Wag the Dog” Diversionary War?

January 27, 2022 --- The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) along with the ANSWER Coalition, CODEPINK, Maryland Peace Action, Popular Resistance, and many other organizations will gather in Washington today at noon in front of the white House as part of an emergency mobilization of anti-war activists to express opposition to the unnecessary and extremely dangerous possibility of war in Ukraine.

With a 39% job approval rating, more deaths from covid than during the Trump administration, and a failure to deliver on most of promises made during the 2020 presidential campaign, the intentional escalation of tensions by the United States with  Russia appears as a clumsy attempt by the Biden administration and the democratic party to divert attention from the historic failures of the administration’s domestic policies.

There could be no other rational explanation for why the Biden administration would encourage the Ukrainian coup government to reject the Minsk II agreement that provided a diplomatic framework for peacefully resolving the internal struggle between the Ukrainian government and regions that declared themselves independent of that government, unless, according to BAP National Organizer, Ajamu Baraka:

“The manufactured crisis with Russia over Ukraine, demonstrates once again the incredible recklessness and outrageous opportunism that the U.S./NATO/EU Axis of domination is prepared to achieve its geo-strategic objective of full-spectrum economic and political global domination.”

Whatever the explanation, it is clear that for African peoples, the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination continues to represent the greatest threat to peace, human rights, and social justice on the planet today. That is why it is so absurd to see the Black Misleadership class lining up to demonstrate their support for war with Russia while Black people still face the structural violence of capitalism and the terror of state violence from the domestic army occupying our communities that are referred to as the police.

BAP says that it is irrational for any African to embrace the agenda of empire by giving credence or legitimacy to the crude mobilization of public opinion for conflict on behalf of NATO, a structure created to perpetuate white power and the colonial/capitalist project.

We are clear: we say once again, not one drop of the blood from Black workers, the colonized and nationally oppressed in defense of the U.S. capitalist oligarchy. 

No Compromise, No Retreat!


Monday, January 24, 2022

10 Reasons The U.S. Should NOT Go To War In Ukraine

10. The U.S. does a piss poor job of caring for military veterans once they are injured, either physically, psychologically, or morally. 

 9. Ukraine is ruled by literal Nazis installed in a 2014 coup promoted by Joe Biden. They oppress Jewish people in Ukraine and bomb areas with majority Russian-speaking population.

 8. The only winners of U.S. wars are corporations who build weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. hasn't "won" a war since 1947. 

7. Wars are expensive for taxpayers and the U.S. still does not have universal health care despite a pandemic that has killed 800,000+ people.

 6. The same corporate press outlets that promoted lies leading to war on Iraq, Libya, and Syria are promoting the lie that Russia is about to invade Ukraine. 

 5. Russia has nuclear weapons which it has never used offensively but presumably would be willing to use defensively. A nuclear exchange is game over for humanity because modern weapons make the bombs the U.S. used on Japan look puny by comparison. 

 4. Millions of people, including children and veterans, are unhoused and camping on the streets of the U.S. during the coldest month of winter. 

 3. Millions of children in the U.S. live in chronic poverty that includes hunger and this permanently affects their health and future happiness. 

 2. Thousands of young people have already had their health and future prospects ruined by enlisting in U.S. wars for empire, and we don't need to create more victims.

 1. Wars and the preparation for them drive climate chaos which is the biggest security threat facing humans collectively.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Neighborhood Bully Plans A Mass Shooting


Once upon a time there was a neighborhood bully who loved to pick on smaller kids. He would knock them down, steal their lunch money, rub their faces in the snow, and then run away laughing. His gang would laugh loudly with him as they feared that he might turn on them if they did not support his cruelties. As he got older he began using his stolen wealth to buy weapons like knives and guns. 

His weapons of first choice could be used from a distance to inflict pain without the chance of getting hurt himself: slingshots, cherry bombs, and pepper spray.

Sometimes the wind kicked up at the wrong moment and the pepper spray blew back in his face. The intended victim would then be blamed for the pepper spray "attack" and subjected to further punishment. And the bully began buying pepper gel instead. He was best friends with the businesses that sold knives, guns, and pepper gel. And they loved the bully because they made so much money off of him. 

To keep him buying they would call him up with stories about how this person or that was becoming too strong and should be stopped before they became able to challenge the bully and win. This was effective because it was the thing that the bully secretly feared most of all. He would buy and buy and buy believing that he was strengthening his position at the top of the heap.


On report card day the bully received all D's and F's because instead of doing his homework he was always at the weapons store. He became enraged, because his second biggest fear was that people thought he was stupid. He was convinced that the kids who sat in the back on the school bus, the older kids, were laughing at him behind his back. He had seen sticky notes on his locker that said U R DUMB and YOU SMELL LIKE A FART and YOUR MOMMA HAS COVID. He wasn't sure who was writing the notes but he had two main suspects: one who used to be part of his posse but had since moved on, and one who was the head of the STEM club building a solar powered streetcar system for the town they lived in.

The bully liked to brag to his friends about threatening both of the sticky note suspects. He was always talking about what he was gonna do to them but he never actually did much because they were both strong, tall kids who might be able to defend themselves.

At the end of the semester both those kids had passed all their classes while the bully had failed all of his except P.E. This meant that he would not be promoted to the next grade and would have to stay back. Most of his friends went on to the next grade and weren't around much anymore. The ones who stayed with him were the meanest kids, the ones who had closets full of guns at home. They liked to talk about shooting up places and they would show up at gatherings like basketball games with loaded guns in their backpacks.

The bully started a rumor that his former friend was planning a mass shooting at the next basketball game. He claimed to have overheard the plans being made in the locker room where he was hiding in a stall cutting math class. Some of his friends believed him and they began preparing by stockpiling weapons in various places close to the basketball court. 

They built each other's confidence by reminiscing about the time that they had kicked a smaller kid's ass,  a smaller kid with no weapons but with plenty of lunch money to steal.

But the attack never came.

So the bully got what he thought was a brilliant idea. One of his friends should shoot out the windows of the school in the middle of the night after spray painting his former friend's name on the front by the flagpole. Photos of the damage would go viral and everyone would blame the former friend. "Let's get this party started!" said the bully, his eyes gleeful with anticipation.

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Derailed: Trains, Stores, Schools & Inadequate Covid Tests Evidence Of U.S. Empire's Rapid Decline

A member of the media picks up a shredded box at a section of the Union Pacific train tracks in downtown Los Angeles, Jan. 14, 2022 CBSLA reported Thursday. 
AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

On the same day that I could not get pictures of littered tracks and derailed trains in downtown Los Angeles out of my head, the federal government finally announced free covid test kits for each household can be ordered from a U.S. Postal Service website

How many of the tests, which we're told won't ship until the end of January, will end up on the tracks?  Journalists reported seeing covid tests discarded amid the debris presumably deemed "not worth stealing." Corporate journalism focused, predictably, on property crimes rather than the underlying conditions of mass deaths in the U.S. amid a public health crisis managed on behalf of commercial interests under late stage capitalism.

Both the trains and the tests are evidence of accelerating imperial decline. Despite loyal Democrats tweeting that we must "thank @POTUS" for finally doing something other countries have been doing better for months, nay, years into this pandemic, the test distribution scheme is already an epic fail.

  • Four tests per household is inadequate. Does the Biden administration realize that front line so-called "essential" workers often have households with more than four people living in them? Or, more to the point, does the Biden administration care?
  • Unhoused people don't have an address to use, typically.
  • People without internet access are shit out of luck.
  • Entering an apartment address is tricky because the form rejects attempts with this explanation:

Here's a whole thread on Twitter explaining how to get around that problem.

My favorite emblematic message so far is corporate mouthpiece Portland Press Herald tweeting from its editors' white and professional class privileged point of view:

"Super easy" -- until the package ends up on the tracks, I suppose.

What's up with the trains anyway? Rampant omicron infections in a nation lacking universal healthcare, paid sick leave, and adequate child care have signficantly reduced the available labor force. 

Container ships off of the coast of the Port of Long Beach | Getty

Shipping and trucking are similarly backed up and have been for months.

Union Pacific train derailment in downtown Los Angeles

Trains are slowed down or backed up and as such are soft targets for theft (hey, maybe some of these packages contain food!). It's unclear whether the 17 car derailment of a Union Pacific train was caused by massive litter on the tracks fouling the switch as some have speculated.

For reference, here's what trains in China look like:

Source: International Business Times "High speed trains in China"

Also Japan (I rode many trains there in the early 1980's and they were fantastic even back then):


Also Germany (I'll stop now):

Source: Train of Thought blog "Frequent service makes Germany's train travel incredibly convenient, and competitive with other modes of transportation. Here, trains prepare to leave Cologne." 
Photo by David Lassesn

All over the U.S. people are sharing photos of empty grocery store shelves 

Source: "Heads Up Moms, Grocery Stores Have Empty Shelves Again

amid widespread and prolonged shortage of items as various as cat food and dental floss.

Teachers at United for Success Academy Middle School walk out in support of Oakland, California students. (WSWS Media, January 18, 2021)

Staffing shortages are affecting schools nationwide. Some have responded by herding students into large holding areas during in-person school during the worst surge of the pandemic. Students in Oakland, NYC, Boston and elsewhere have walked out demanding remote learning be reinstated, and the Chicago Teachers Union refused to return in person after the holidays.

The decline of empires is often rapid once they get rolling, often ugly, and nearly always dangerous.

Think of the Ottoman Empire whose dissolution sparked WWI, or the Japanese imperialism that ended with starvation and suicide bombers in kamikaze planes built with no landing gear to save on costs.

Boasting and claims of superiority typically go hand in hand with imperial decline. So we are told the economy is doing great while low income people are being devastasted by inflation and loss of income with minimal support from the government. Meanwhile, U.S.-led NATO announces its overarching policy plan for militarizing outer space to protect...banking.

Voting will not fix this. Both corporate parties have failed to respond effectively to widespread infection and its consequences.

Workers withholding their labor is already widespread and likely the only power the people still have to get us on track to a minimal quality of life for all.

The silver lining in this cloud: maybe I will live to see that general strike I've been dreaming of after all.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Andrea Brower, Kaua'i Climate Forum On Military & Climate: 'This Is A Radically Underdiscussed Topic'

The Kaua'i Climate Forum invited me to present at their monthly zoom meeting on how the U.S. military contributes to climate chaos. Their January 12 forum included three outstanding climate and militarism activists based in Hawaii: Ann Wright of Veterans for Peace, Koohan Paik-Mander of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, and Kip Goodwin of Sierra Club. Here's the full recording:

Like many zoom recordings, the first few minutes are spent waiting for attendees to enter the room, so I suggest you skip the first 4 minutes to get to Andrea's introduction of the sponsoring organizations, the topic, and the speakers. My 20 minute presentation with slides starts at the 10:45 point.

If you are short on time you can see just my recorded presentation here (the time difference between Maine and Hawaii made me beg off on presenting live way past my bedtime).

However, you will miss a lot if you don't hear the shorter presentations that follow mine. I've transcribed some excerpts from their remarks.

Andrea Brower, moderator, Gonzaga University adjunct faculty, Sociology & Environmental Studies:

This is a radically underdiscussed topic...we really can't talk about the climate crisis without discussing the U.S. military...Hawaii is where the U.S. military is arguably the biggest polluter, and Red Hill is just one example of many.

Ann Wright, retired Colonel U.S. Army & U.S. State Dept, organizer with Veterans for Peace:

"Most of the time we think of military pollution interms of what we've seen in wars...Iraq oil fields that were blown up...Iraq & Afghanistan burning dealing with the health problems that were caused...just as in the Vietnam war the health problems that were caused by Agent Orange...a legacy that the Vietnamese are still dealing with

Right here at Red Hill...we have 93,000 people most of them on military base housing...who are dealing with not having potable water...we are dealing with parts of the climate chaos, with how the repositories of fuel that the military says they have to have for national security... What is national security? Do you have n.s. when you're killing your own people with the materials that you're using for what you say in n.s.? our HI congressional delegation has picked upt hose terms. Congressman Kahele "the fuel insecurity is really n.s. & we've got to resolve this issue of having jet fuel 100 ft abo ve the main aquifer of Oahu."

Right here we're dealing with the tangible effects of military pollution

Marine Corps Osprey go out on training missions and they now are buzzing Molokai ...protests because these planes come in so low, shaking the windows...if you look at how much fuel they're using...the training and preparations are killing our enviro, killing our climate. something that well all here in the haw islands HI's congressional delegation which typically loves everything military gets huge amounts of their campaign funds from military-related industries. Well finally we have one time when our entire delegation has said no to the military & we need to keep after them to say no to the military which has been used to getting just as a matter of fact."


Laurel Brier, retired social worker & lead organizer for the Kaua'i Climate Forum: 

"[military emissions are] the whale in the room...there's no greening war

Bill McKibben's not talking about it, Greta's not talking about it" 


Koohan Paik-Mander, journalist & board member, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space:

"Spread the truth! The media is complicit, the Democrats are complicit...all we have is ourselves."

Kip Goodwin, peace and justice activist with Sierra Club & Democratic Party Environmental Caucus:

"Homeland Defense Radar Hawaii (HDRH) to be built [in one of two locations in Hawaii]...would have one purpose: to detect the launch of a intercontinental ballistic missile from North Korea ...this radar has lost support among DOD strategy planners ...because hypersonic missiles can evade the radar...the HDRH has been zeroed out of the last two defense auth bills in favor of a network of satellite detection systems... 

What's keeping the HDRH alive is procurements won by our congressional thing Republicans and Democrats in Washington can agree on is voting more funding to the Pentagon than it even asks for...the military would invest $1 billion of our taxpayer structures in a tsunami-zone..sea level is expected to rise at that location 3 feet by the end of the century. The military's answer to that is to put the radar complex on a platform 27 acres...that would require 80,000 truckloads of concrete and in-fill...disrupting daily life and commerce for a year or more...

The background for all this is the headlong rush into a nuclear arms race.

Opinion polls show that the treaty... that makes ownership of a nuclear weapon illegal under international law signed by 86 countries has overwhelming support worldwide. But nuclear weapons state the U.S., influenced by the weapons industry, lacks the political will to pursue treaties to place limits on nuclear warheads and missiles. There can be no greater harm than a nuclear exchange."

My favorite comment during the discussion period came near the end.

Young antiwar activist SL:

"Whenever I hear people talking about climate change, especially young people, we're not very good at
making the connection to militarism around the globe, and connecting domestic capitalist failures to imperialist aggression abroad.

I'm curious because many of you have been working the space where climate change and antiwar efforts overlap, what do you think we can do as young activists to bring those two conversations together more and work together in organizing?


Ann Wright: 

"Have meetings and talk about the two subjects together. Have some good graphics that show the two subjects together...Host the dialog!" 

My comment: that could look like sharing this blog post, these presentations, and/or the research they were based on.

Or maybe you'd like to apply for this job newly created by the Conflict & Environment Observatory.

Vacancy: Campaigner (military and #ClimateChange)
Location: #HebdenBridge, UK, hybrid/remote.
Salary: £30,000. Hours: Full time – 37.5 hours. Contract: Until Dec 2023. Closing date: 18 Feb 2022. You must be eligible to work in the UK. 
More info:

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Annals Of False Dichotomy: Maine's 3rd Party Ballot Access Rules Deemed Unconstitutional

Last Friday I received a message from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) whose actions on behalf of peace, nuclear disarmament, and social justice I have often supported.

This one shocked me, though, because they were teaming up with one of the worst sh*t lib organizations I can think of, Daily Kos. Furthermore, they were urging me to contact the Senate to "protect our freedom to vote" which is code for "vote for Democrats" or, in its more inane version, "vote blue no matter who."

I shouldn't have been surprised because AFSC folks I know declined to support me as an antiwar candidate in 2020 and one of our campaign managers said, yeah, AFSC takes big money from the DNC and has for years. 

I'm not a sucker for false dichotomy so I don't accept the unspoken premise that, because I dislike Republican policies and tactics, I must therefore support Democrats. Both parties work for the same corporate sponsors and the bill for voting "rights" makes this clear if you read the fine print.

The Green Party US has a useful information page on why the "Freedom" to Vote Act is a bad bill as written and must be revised to earn our support. Signing the Green petition is an action on behalf of voting freedom that I was happy to take, and I invite you to join me.

Back here in little old Maine we've had our two-corporate-party ballot access system declared unconstitutional by violating the 1st and 14th amendments after the Libertarian Party took the state to court over it. Again, not a surprise to me as the former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap admitted to Michael Shepherd of the Bangor Daily News that it was "much harder for a statewide third-party candidate" to gain ballot access in Maine.

Sam Pfeifle of our U.S. senate campaign wrote this great op-ed asking why the current Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows (a Democrat) has not taken steps to address this for all the parties disadvantaged by the rules now in place. 

There are some pretty extensive remedies that she has been ordered by the court to extend to the Libertarians. 

From Sam's article:

  • The Secretary of State has to reinstate the Libertarian Party and treat them as a ballot-qualified party for the 2022 election cycle. (My note: An election cycle that is already underway).
  • The Secretary of State has to let Libertarian candidates qualify for the ballot using both Libertarian and unenrolled voters' signatures (instead of just one's own party's signatures, as is the current law).
  • The Secretary of State has to send a letter, containing a self-addressed stamped envelop, to all of the Libertarians the office unenrolled, offering them the chance to re-enroll with the Libertarians over the course of 45 days.

If you followed my campaign at all you're probably aware that we spent months trying for ballot access as a Green candidate until we saw it could not be done. Then we got all the signatures we needed in one day (Super Tuesday) at the polls because we could collect from all registered voters once I unenrolled from the Greens. Seems fair, right? Wrong.

False dichotomy is going to be the death of us, probably literally. 

People who rightfully distrust Anthony Fauci and the CDC for serving capital before human health then erroneously conclude that they shouldn't get vaccinated. And they often get really sick and even die and now our hospitals are on the verge of total collapse which impacts health care for everyone in ways that have nothing to do with the rapidly mutating virus.

False dichotomy will be strongly in play here in Maine when neoliberal Democrat Governor Janet Mills is up for re-election. She deserves to lose, because she has vetoed a raft of good legislation supported by the actual people -- most recently a bill allowing agricultural workers to organize unions. Democrats in Maine think they can thumb their nose at labor interests because of the boogeyman of our former GOP governor who will be back from term limits to run against Mills. There is no ranked choice voting in state level elections (more's the pity) so we will be told that voting for Green candidate Michael Barden might split the vote for Mills to hold on to her seat. I will be vilified if I admit that I will vote for him anyway. Oh well.

The hysteria over January 6 isn't super useful in Maine so here comes a state level Equal Rights Amendment. I guarantee you we'll be told by the pink pussy hat Democrats that we HAVE to re-elect Janet Mills because Paul LePage would not support the bill.

The Dem v. Repub false dichotomy is increasingly threadbare as the Biden administration mismanages the pandemic at least as badly as the GOP bogeyman before him, passes the largest military spending bill ever, continues the bipartisan plan to (secretly) privatize Medicare, and continues to keep migrant children in cages at the border amid record breaking deportations. There are a lot of great memes about this but I'll just end with one:

EDITED 1/12/22: To correct my misunderstanding that a governor's veto would play a role in a constitutional amendment. Hat tip to former Maine legislator Ralph Chapman for the correction.

Monday, January 10, 2022

New Video By Military Emissions Researchers Reveals Truth About What's Driving #ClimateCrisis

Excited to share this newly published short video introducing many people to facts that have been hidden for far too long: 

the world's militaries, especially the U.S. military, are major contributors to climate crisis.

Climate change and the military: tracking their carbon emissions features researchers from the U.S. and UK discussing what they have found and also how difficult it was to find this information. (My note: by design.)

Why not share this video with your elected officials, friends, and family?

Sunday, January 2, 2022

DON'T LOOK UP: Violent Patriarchy Goes Down

I'm not focused on feminism most of the time but it was impossible for me to view the holiday season blockbuster DON'T LOOK UP without a keen awareness of what it had to say about gendered politics. My last blog post considered the intersectional wisdom of Black feminist thinker bell hooks. This one will consider the folly of proceeding without that wisdom.

Meryl Streep's performance channeling the goofy worst of the female former governor of Alaska and some current members of Congress was a perfect way to show rather than tell: electing women solves nothing. Or, put another way, a woman who claws her way to the top of violent patriarchy will not embody the feminist values of concern for the common good, the imperative to cooperate, or reverence for life on our planet. Played for laughs with a perfect surprise at the tail end of the credits.

More central to the film's narrative, though, is the juxtaposition of an idealistic scientific heroine played by Jennifer Lawrence with a weak-willed scientist antihero played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Lawrence rocketed to stardom as the protagonist of THE HUNGER GAMES, and the association with dystopian competitiveness is likely not lost on the audience. 

At first her male mentor/boss creates space for her amazing discovery and gives credit where credit is due. But then he treats his wife like crap and falls into the morass of structural sexism enshrined in modern government and mass media. Lawrence is sidelined like legions of female discoverers before her; its been over 100 years since Einstein used his wife's mathematical calculations without attribution, and little has changed. Then, Lawrence's instant memehood is emblematic of the way social media tears women to shreds as misogyny cowers and snipes from behind screens.

The way in which the solutions to a natural disaster are conceived of as military first and capitalistic second further illustrate the problem with patriarchal thinking. The filmmakers clearly had a great time creating the characters who drive the rockets to doom, lampooning both generals with muscle for brains and brainy tech entrepeneurs with their minds on their money and their money on their minds.

Ariana Grande as the voice of wisdom was a nice twist since she's first presented as a vapid foil to Lawrence's nerdy Cassandra. Once the two are working together, Lawrence's communication powers increase considerably.

Cate Blanchett takes a star turn as a dumb blonde journalist successfully riding the shallow wave that passes for culture on broadcast television. A recurring theme of the film is journalists as corporate stenographers for the status quo being mercilessly lampooned. 

The data mongers who know everything about us predict the deaths of two characters, but only one of these predictions proves true. An extended family dinner of the sort convened by nurturers since the dawn of humankind may not be able to save the world, but it does save a soul or two. A final prayer to the big daddy in the sky reminds us that things might have ended differently had the spiritual wisdom of matriarchies not been replaced by the degraded values of violent patriarchies. 

Hierarchies have served us poorly as elites who have clambered over bodies to reach the top of the heap hog both resources and the power to conceive and implement solutions.

In the end, we are reminded that whatever Nature has in store for us can only be faced together. The I've-got-mine-and-you're-out-of-luck mentality is the antithesis of feminist values, and likely spells our collective doom.