All right, I think the choir’s been preached to long enough. Let’s get out of the pews, start spreadin’ the news, and reclaim our country already.
It’s time to march on Washington. (As in the District of Columbia. If you end up in Spokane, don’t blame me.)
I’ve often wondered what the fascist Republican bleedership would do if, say, about a million of us showed up on the Capitol Building and White House doorsteps one day a tad cranky. With sore feet, no less.
But, ya know what? I’m tired of wondering. I’m also tired of a few other things, like hearing that honesty is “over the top” or how views held by half this nation’s citizens are “out of the mainstream”; of patronizingly being called a member of a “focus group” while trying to prevent an unprovoked invasion and subsequent occupation that have, just as predicted, killed tens of thousands and cost billions; of watching the American corporate media give the backhand and the back pages (if any) to news of genuine consequence; of how exercising one’s First Amendment rights to question an insane war is unpatriotic and “endangers our troops”; of how having a lying, blithering idiot playing president is somehow a good thing; of how torture is OK as long as we do it; of having fewer rights than a corporation; of being labeled a loony for arriving at the obvious conclusion that voting was fixed in the last (s)election (at least); of hearing Republicans call “frivolous” voluminous documented cases of voter intimidation and vote suppression; of the administration regularly shoving reports and information down the memory hole; of being tagged an anti-Semite for having the temerity to suggest U.S. coddling of Israel and support of its brutal subjugation of the Palestinians is simply unacceptable; of how people are poor only because they choose to be and of how the rich have no moral obligation to help them and, by extension, improve our society; of how necessary it is to destroy our Constitution to protect it from those who supposedly want to destroy our Constitution…
I’m so tired of all of that, and way, way more, so much so, in fact, that I can think of no better way to shake some of that fatigue than by heading eastward and not stopping till I get to Capitol Hill. I’m lookin’ for a few (around 999,999 or so) good men and women to join me.
What exactly, you inquire, would we do once we get there, other than look at a bunch of monuments and stuff?
Glad you asked! The Downing Street Memos (DSM): you may have heard of ‘em. Well, it’s a safe bet tens of millions of your fellow citizens haven’t, and most likely never will, unless we take charge. That’s because there’s no way the black-hatted whoreporate media are going to unholster these smoking guns. Don’t even waste precious dream time dreaming about it.
A quick DSM recap, just for the smell of it: The highly-classified British memos, leaked by a true human, repeatedly and clearly show the Bushies were planning a Saddamectomy long before the invasion of Iraq “officially” began in March 2003. In fact, the memos are full of all sorts of damning things, including this line already well on its way to becoming an instant classic (whatever that means): “But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” In other words, Dubya lied the country into war! Can you even imagine?
Well, of course you can. That’s because you have an organ inside your cranicular area called a “brain,” which you have utilized for its intended purpose, scientifically called “thinking.” This same process has no doubt led you to conclude that millions of your fellow countrymen and women have not yet released their own brains from the original shrink-wrapping, meaning they’re still unused and have most likely shrunk even further; otherwise, it’d be called “expand-wrapping.”
Thus, while you, dear reader, do not need your proof of Bushian mendacity neatly laid out, it seems plenty of other Americans do. Perhaps it has been your fervent hope that when/if such CliffsNotes-style confirmation appeared, 1) the corporate media would have no choice but to feature it, 2) the country would be awash in the beautiful, unmistakable sound of millions of pounds of fresh gray matter being opened and newly activated, 3) the Bushies would be brought down under pressure and rightly tried as war criminals, 4) and we could all throw a hella big-ass party and be all giggly for a few months, at least.
It all sounds pretty cool, but there’s a slight flaw: #1 is deader’n proper grammar at a Bush press conference.
Robert Parry wrote a characteristically thorough article the other day about how the media “coverage” of the memos is looking a lot like deja pooh pooh all over again, specifically citing as an example the snide hit piece by the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank about Congressman John Conyers’ (D-MI) recent patriotic attempt to get the word out about the leaked documents.
Denied a hearing room by the ruling Republicons in which to hold his proceedings, Conyers and others, including 30 congressmembers, were banished to “a room the size of a large closet” (per Conyers’ perturbed post-Post piece 'plaint). Afterwards, Conyers faced the ignominy of presenting his petition featuring the names of half a million Americans and 122 U.S. representatives demanding an inquiry into the memos to “an anonymous staff member” at “a [White House] back entrance” (quotes are from a Scoop report about the event).
Milbank finds this all highly amusing.
Parry correctly parallels Milbank’s scornalism to the supremely tragic Gary Webb saga. Webb’s 1996 “Dark Alliance” series ran in the San Jose Mercury-News and detailed the CIA/Contra drug smuggling connection of the 1980s. Instead of following this huge story, the “big three” of American newspapers -- the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and yes, the Washington Post -- led a loud charge to personally discredit him. It worked: Webb left the Mercury-News within a year, never wrote again for a mainstream paper, and, finally, last December, depressed, disillusioned, and broke, (allegedly) committed suicide.
Parry’s message is as dead on as the “watchdog press” is just plain dead: we can’t expect salvation from the White House Department of Propaganda, er, American corporate media. If we want to publicize the memos and save our country, I guess (sigh) we’re just gonna have to do it ourselves.
Here, then, are Mark’s Helpful Hints for Taking One’s Country Back (I mean America, specifically; Ukraine and Bolivia are already spoken for):
The basic plan is to gather (place to be determined), march on September 6* to Lafayette Park, rally, and then march again to the Capitol Building steps and White House gate.
Once there, all one million of us (the ones in the back may have to get on tip-toes and lean in a bit to hear) will demand but two things: that Congress open hearings on the memos and that the White House address, point by point, the memos’ assertions. If the Bushies balk and contend the memos contain rubbish (a big “if,” huh?), then we insist on seeing the administration’s corroborating documentation. Remember, the absence of evidence doesn’t mean there is absence of evidence. Or whatever. (Whenever I paraphrase or try to quote Donald Rumsfeld, or even remember we occupy the same planet, it just reminds me again of what a total idiot he is. Also.)
Once the hearings start, we stuff the hearing rooms. We are not going to march and then go home. I don’t think there’s much interest in re-creating the squeal, the loud fury repeatedly expressed at the boisterous anti-war marches millions of us attended, events which, though certainly well-meaning, turned out in the end to be little more than feel-good exercises that disappointingly resulted in us leaving far more litter than legacy.
Nope, this time we’re stickin’ around. And we’re not going to sit on our hands and be polite little listeners, no sir. Every time the Repigicans start burying the truth or pulling a Sensenbrenner, we will shout them down. Then we’ll be arrested, and in will come the next relief crew. We will do this for as long as it takes.
What’s the worse they can do: kill us? Hell, no! (Not that they won’t hesitate to punch our tickets, ‘cause that’s no problema, senor, not for these folks for whom slaughtering 100,000 human beings is of zero concern. No, the worse thing they could do would be to torture us first [legal in America now, ya know], then kill us.)
This actually brings us to a very serious matter (which is why, as you can see, I now wear my most sober game face): Expect intimidation. Expect arrests. Expect violence. Not from us, but from the Bush police state police who will all be sporting the latest in robocop thingamabobber head-to-toe fear-gear and just itchin’ to bust our brain-containing noggins. (Could be an envy thing.)
I joke, but this is no joke. Reclaiming one’s country is typically not all beer and skittles, or even mulled wine and salted fish. (See: Ukrainian election protests, sustenance.)
Some friendly dos and don’ts for the whole process:
Keep it simple. This is key, critical, essential, indispensable. In other words, it’s kind of important. Please, oh please, let us have no signs or speeches about, for example, freeing the rainforest or ending the clear-cutting of Mumia Abu-Jamal. This is a pet peeve of mine that still simmers long after attending my last anti-war march/rally. Do you know how entertaining or helpful it is listening to harangue after harangue coming from the stage on 37 disparate subjects all with the same conclusion, that the white man is responsible for all of the world’s ills? Not very. Granted, it is pretty much true, and, yes, all evil flows from a central evil and everything’s all interconnected and we’re all one and…so, all right: we get it already! Let’s cut the chatter and hop to the matter. Of course there are other legitimate grievances in the world, but splintering the message and boring one’s listeners to tears are not -- repeat, not -- effective ways of getting results. Focus, folks!
One city only. This will all take place in Washington, D.C. only. There will be no “sympathy marches” in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, or Butte, Montana. Why? Because, as much as those cities are fine locales in their own rights, none houses our national legislative houses or the current louse of a White House houseboy. Nary a one! Now, if between this article’s publication and the assigned date of the march, America’s seat of power has indeed been relocated to, say, some town in Idaho, then, sure, we’ll all head there instead and I will gladly offer you an apology and even a fine potato.
We are our own media. This is when we demonstrate, and finally establish, the power of our media. We will cover this event the way it could never be covered by anyone else -- and certainly won’t be, since the whoreporate media will ignore and/or disparage our march and subsequent activities as only they can. No matter. It’s long been apparent that the only successful way to deal with their complicit dishonesty is to overtake them, not reform them or try to get them to “see the light,” which is really sorta like trying to somehow persuade Darth Vader to adjust his attitude. This is the moment to help set their dimming sun even further while making ours shine bright. (And also avoid hackneyed phrases like that one at all costs.) We’ll take pictures and write stories and shoot lots of video and stuff, and we will tell the world.
Don’t let up. For the foreseeable future, we shall keep pounding away at the slumbering public’s unawareness by pounding away on our keyboards the following: “DOWNING STREET MEMOS, DOWNING STREET MEMOS, DOWNING STREET MEMOS.” Granted, this may become a bit tedious after a while, but, hey, if I can survive the boredom of watching my somnolent San Francisco Giants sleepwalk through yet another loss, then surely we can all bear the dullness of working the DSM into every story we produce. (I’m toying with the idea of entitling all future pieces “Downing Street Memos I,” “II,” “III,” and so on. That way, I get it out of the way early and don’t forget.)
Stay committed. If you knew who stole your car, would you just give up after a few days and walk dejectedly back home if the thieves refused to give it back? Of course you wouldn’t. You’d devise a way to get it back and then do it. Well, America is our car, and it’s been ripped off by the Bush freedomjackers who’re driving it around right now big as you please, running over everything in sight, leaving the mess for us to clean up, and even sticking us with the outrageous gas and repair bills. I say we don’t leave Washington until we get the keys back. To apply the brakes on the car analogy for a moment (you’re welcome) and just outright beat the point to death: We must see this thing through. Once we get our hearings in Congress, we do not leave. We watch those duplicitous GOP bastards like hawks and beat the drum when they stray. We also dog the administration at every turn. Maybe one of us has connections and can wangle a White House press pass so Little Snotty Scotty McClellan can finally hear what a real question sounds like, and then we can all watch his head explode. (I think some shaved-domed dude named Jeff something-and-other may have a used pass for sale. Someone should check either eBay or UnderwearMarineLife.com.)
So there’s the basic idea. Yes, it’s a little light on details, but, remember, this is only the first volley and, besides, it’s all a (big) group thang. This is a good spot to mention this: I’m nobody’s MOOL (March Overall Organizing Leader). Case in point: I was ill-advisedly put in charge of our last office potluck, and we ended up with a bowl of chips and 23 different desserts. Coordinating activities and directing scores of different groups and people (let alone 24 co-workers; that’s right, someone ate for free) is not my strongest suit. In fact, I don’t even have a suit like that in my closet. So we’re lookin’ for one mighty fine organizer.
But I am ready, willing, and able to help “doers” connect with one another to help it all come to pass. I have a public voice; I will use it as much and often as possible. You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any solid information or suggestions you have about making this baby go. I will answer as many e-mails as I can. (Please, no spam.)
I’ve not a clue what sort of reaction this column will produce. The resultant buzz could be equivalent to the total amount of sense Dubya has ever made, or it could catch fire. Time will tell; in the meantime, I humbly ask that you forward this piece to the many fine folks you know, and even to those you don’t.
Of course, properly executing this plan means experiencing genuine travail. So, I must ask: What’s America worth to you? More germanely, so we don’t end up more Germanly (WWII vintage), what are America’s values worth to you? Your time, your job, your money, your freedom?
These are questions I’m certain we’ve all sincerely asked ourselves. I recently told a friend who knows I’m planning to visit Costa Rica in November and move there for good next June that, if this article “hits,” I could’ve just shot my dream of watching beautiful sunsets while drinking coconut milk and listening to howling monkeys right en la pie. I also told him I could avoid such a worry by just not writing this column.
But the fact is, I really can’t do that because I’m not “built that way,” and the many messages I’ve been fortunate enough to receive from readers for some time now solidly confirm I am far from uniquely constructed.
To be perfectly honest, though, I’m not really all that crazy about marching on Washington, nor do I truly wish to publicly commit to sleeping in a park for who knows how long. I also don’t want to endure heat or cold or hunger or thirst or discomfort for long periods of time, or skip bathing more often than I (or others) would prefer (though I do think rotating “b.o. squads” in and out of congressional hearings may have its advantages), or devote weeks of my life working on minute details, or face getting beaten or arrested or imprisoned or even killed, or lose my job, or spend lots of money, or talk to reporters, or make speeches, or attend meetings (personally, the worst thing imaginable; I hate meetings), or have the whole thing turn out to be a big bust -- or not be able to go to Costa Rica.
But “wanting to” doesn’t have anything to do with it anymore, if it ever really did. I’ve had it up to here with having had it up to here. I am fed up -- thoroughly, utterly, completely, indisputably, irrevocably, totally fed up -- with feeling hopeless, helpless, demonized, disgusted, and enraged. Especially with feeling enraged, and it’s way past time to fully return that wrath, plenty of questions asked, right back to its manufacturers. When I saw Senselessbrainer gavel that hearing closed on C-SPAN the other day after delivering his putrid little sermon and then walk out along with the rest of his fellow fascists in a breathtaking display of contempt for the entire democratic process, I just about jumped through the screen. How dare he. How dare any of them. Just who in the name of sweet liberty do they think they are? We are not chattel to be cowed, privileged to do their bidding; the government is ours, and we are coming to take it back.
I assume at least some of this may strike a chord; otherwise, you’d likely not spend one more second reading it or doing what you and so many of us have all been doing in our own ways for what seems like forever: trying to stop the all-out assault on America’s true soul, the Constitution and values contained therein, that the Bushies have so far prosecuted so sickeningly well. It is this moment now, while there is a crack in the façade, that we may have our best shot at not only halting such destruction, but also finally wresting our country back from the madmen who now control it.
Believe me, one million mad as hell people can make a fairly deep impression -- in more ways than one.
One voice, one message, one million people.
Stay tuned. I will be writing on details as they develop. In the meantime, start informing the choir of something it will finally love to hear, and rejoice in singing about: our freedom.
Mark Drolette is a political/satirist commentator who lives in Sacramento, California (at least for now). Again, he can be reached at email@example.com. Other writings of his can be accessed at www.markdrolette.com. Copyright © 2005 Mark Drolette. All rights reserved. Non-commercial use expressly allowed.
* Why September 6? Well, that’s the day Congress gets back from its five weeks-long summer break. (Nice work if you can get it, huh? If interested, apply to Diebold, Triad, or ES&S.) I just figured it’d make more sense if those to whom we present our demands are actually there when we present them. Congress is also in session from July 11 through July 29, but that may not give us enough lead time. (Then again, I don’t think the Ukrainians or Bolivians needed a whole lot of advance notice.)
Other Articles by Mark Drolette *
Forget First Rule of C.Y.A.: Check to See if (Jack)boot is Already Firmly
Other Articles by Mark Drolette
Forget First Rule of C.Y.A.: Check to See if (Jack)boot is Already Firmly