BY JONATHAN VALANIA When Stephen Colbert hosted the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner — the annual D.C. puppet show where reporters play pattycake with the Prez — he rode the Trojan Horse of Truthiness right up to the President’s table and unleashed its hidden contents: a disinfecting dose of reality-based reality, thinly-coated with irony for easier digestion, though impossible to swallow for those weaned on Fox News comfort food. Speaking truth to power at point blank-range, Colbert’s barbs essentially added up to: The emperor has no clothes, and all of you, the Fourth Estate, have become nothing more than royal dressers. No wonder Colbert’s performance was greeted with pin-drop silence and muzzled in the coverage of the event. It has since been afforded watershed moment status, the day the mask fell away. Still, it is a sad day for the Republic when the job of truth-telling falls to the clowns.
Increasingly, rock music is stepping into the breach, bridging the yawning chasm between what is real and what is permitted. There was a time when I would have thought the protest song had outlived its usefulness. Turns out no generation gets the protest songs it wants, it gets the protest songs it needs. What’s that you say? Preaching to the choir? Well, look around, son — there ain’t no choir! That all changes with Neil Young’s Living With War, wherein Young employs a massive power-to-the-people choir to recite his words, themselves essentially articles of impeachment that Neil stacks on an electric chair of metallic folk-punk. This is angry Neil, the righteous electric warrior, rockin’ in the free world, or what’s left of it. Like Colbert’s performance, Living With War essentially points out that our emperor is stark ravin’ nekkid, connecting the dots on the bald-faced lies that led us into quagmire, keep us divided and afraid and the resulting slow-but-steady amputation of the national soul. If the congressional Dems don’t have the balls to say it, our hairy Canadian friend will: It is time for us to wake-up from our long national nightmare.
Coming on the heels of a major concert movie/album release, and written and recorded in three weeks in March and rushed out to the Internet and CD sellers this week, Living With War is blog rock — or more accurately, rock as blog. Brash, raw and immediate. And to make sure his point is not lost on the common man, Young dresses these songs up in his best distressed-jeans freedom-rock — think Rust Never Sleep‘s garage-punk crunch — and reclaims the flag, mom, apple pie, truth, justice and the American Way from the war pigs. But the most powerful moment is when that big, soulful choir does “America The Beautiful” — sounding fierce, wounded, and heartbroken but resolved to get us back to where we once belonged. This rendition contains multitudes: you can hear New Orleans drowning, you can hear the towers falling, and bombs bursting in air over Baghdad.
“We are the silent majority now, and we haven’t done a damn thing,” Young told the New York Times back in 2006. “We’ve stood by and watched this happen. But there’s more of us than there is of them, and we have to do something. When people start talking and see they can get away with it, it’s going to happen everywhere. It’s going to be a landslide, it’s going to be a tidal wave. This is just the tip of it.” As fucked as things are, there is reason to believe we’ve finally reached the tipping point. Thankfully our forefathers were very wise men who wove into the fabric or our democracy hidden mechanisms to stop the slimy creep of fascism, like salt on a slug. One of them is free speech. Don’t laugh, it can stop tanks dead in their tracks.
NEIL YOUNG: America The Beautiful
WHY WE FIGHT: The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” —October 17, 2004, New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush
ESQUIRE: More than anything else, the presidential election ongoing is — or, as a right, ought to be — about ending an era of complicity. There is no point anymore in blaming George Bush or the men he hired or the party he represented or the conservative movement that energized that party for what has happened to this country in the past seven years. They were all merely the vehicles through whom the fear and the lassitude and the neglect and the dry rot that had been afflicting the democratic structures for decades came to a dramatic and disastrous crescendo. The Bill of Rights had been rendered a nullity by degrees long before a passel of apparatchik hired lawyers found in its text enough gray space to allow a fecklessly incompetent president to command that torture be carried out in the country’s name. The war powers of the Congress had been deeded wholesale to the executive long before Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz and a passel of think-tank cowboys found within them the right of a fecklessly incompetent president to make war unilaterally on anyone, anywhere, forever. The war in Iraq is the powerful bastard child of the Iran-Contra scandal, which went unpunished.
The ownership of the people over their politics — and, therefore, over their government — had been placed in quitclaim long before the towers fell, and the president told the people to be just afraid enough to let him take them to war and just afraid enough to reelect him, but not to be so afraid that they stayed out of the malls.
It had been happening, bit by bit, over nearly forty years. Ronald Reagan sold the idea that “government” was something alien. The notion of a political commonwealth fell into a desuetude so profound that even Bill Clinton said, “The era of Big Government is over” and was cheered across the political spectrum, so that when an American city drowned and the president didn’t care enough to leave a birthday party, and the disgraced former luxury-horse executive who’d been placed in charge of disaster relief behaved pretty much the way a disgraced former luxury-horse executive could be expected to behave in that situation, it could not have come as any kind of surprise to anyone honest enough to have watched the country steadily abandon self-government over the previous four decades. The catastrophe that is the administration of George W. Bush is not unprecedented. It was merely inevitable. The people of the United States have been accessorial in the murder of their country.
Someone will have to measure the wreckage. Someone will have to walk through the ruins. Someone will have to count the cost.
Most of the damage was in plain sight in 2004, when Barack Obama became a political star by giving a speech in which he told America what a great country it was, and what great people were in it, and then the country went out and reelected George W. Bush anyway. Then came even further revelations — of warrantless spying, of a Justice Department turned into little more than a political chop shop, of torture and black prisons, of the length and breadth and sheer audacity of the lies that led to a seemingly endless war. The Democrats even took over the Congress in 2006. And nothing, it seemed, changed. Nobody was held responsible. White House aides simply ignored congressional subpoenas. Documents vanished. E-mails were accidentally deleted. The sound of the shredders working in a hundred different offices in the executive branch of the government must today sound like the starting line at Daytona five seconds before they drop the flag.
Someone will have to measure the wreckage. Someone will have to walk through the ruins. Someone will have to count the cost.
That is the election that the cynic thought we’d have in 2008, an epochal choice of wisdom over stupidity, energy over apathy, grimly serious business over shiny trivialities. He was no less a sucker than any of his countrymen for appeals to the better angels of his nature. But this time around, he wanted those angels to be carrying flaming swords. He thought he’d measured the wreckage, walked through the ruins, and counted the cost. He didn’t think he was smarter than his countrymen or shrewder about his politics or wiser in the ways of the world. The cynic simply thought he was adequate to the times, and he didn’t want to be “moving on” just yet. He didn’t want an election that offered absolution without confession, without penance. MORE
RELATED: Limbaugh Tells 20 Million That Will Bunch Is A ‘Wacko’
“After the administration’s left office, to pursue an investigation that might lead to criminal indictments for war crimes and other things. We used to do that to the Nazis. We did do that to the Nazis, the Nuremberg Trials and so forth. This is who today’s modern liberals are. Now, Obama’s got this wacko reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News who’s obviously not a reporter. He is a leftist who happens to have secured a job in journalism, and he’s got an agenda, and the agenda is right out of the cliched story line of the Drive-By Media, that we are a murderous, raping, torturing nation and that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Powell have to pay. This is all about creating the notion in as many people’s minds that our country is criminal, is in a constant state of decline, and we are not worth our reputation as the world’s greatest superpower.” — RUSH LIMBAUGH MORE
THE NATION: Finally, it has started. People have begun to speak of impeaching President George W. Bush–not in hushed whispers but openly, in newspapers, on the Internet, in ordinary conversations and even in Congress. As a former member of Congress who sat on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, I believe they are right to do so. I can still remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach during those proceedings, when it became clear that the President had so systematically abused the powers of the presidency and so threatened the rule of law that he had to be removed from office. MORE
RELATED: Zogby Poll Shows Majority of Americans Support Impeaching Bush for Wiretapping. By a margin of 52% to 43%, Americans want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge’s approval, according to a new poll commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org, a grassroots coalition that supports a Congressional investigation of President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003. MORE
HOWARD DEAN: “My view is that the American people hired us in 2006 because they did not like the direction that the country was going in and what they wanted to see was someone that was willing to do something positive and get something done in Washington that was for their benefit. They didn’t send us there to impeach the president,” Dean said. MORE
RELATED: The House has voted to send articles of impeachment against President Bush to a committee that is not likely to hold hearings before the end of his term. By 251-166, House members dispatched the measure to a committee on Wednesday — a procedure often used to kill legislation.
HUFFINGTON POST: Some will want to dismiss Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s introduction of articles of impeachment against President Bush as quixotic, but it’s not. Twenty House Republicans joined nearly all House Democrats in voting to send the articles to the Judiciary Committee. This comes on the heels of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 107-page report confirming, with the vote of two Republican Senators, that President Bush abused his office by deceiving Congress and the American people into the Iraq war. MORE
HOT DOCUMENT: Articles of Impeachment
Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio
In the United States House of Representatives
Monday, June 9th, 2008
Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq.
Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War.
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States.
Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression.
Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of HJRes114.
Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War.
Invading Iraq, A Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter.
Failing to Provide Troops With Body Armor and Vehicle Armor
Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes
Establishment of Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq
Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation’s Natural Resources
Creating a Secret Task Force to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq and Other
Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency
Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Criminal Contractors in Iraq
Reckless Misspending and Waste of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors
Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives
Torture: Secretly Authorizing, and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy
Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to “Black Sites” Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture
Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government
Creating Secret Laws
Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act
Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and the Fourth Amendment
Directing Telecommunications Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens
Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements
Failing to Comply with Congressional Subpoenas and Instructing Former Employees Not to Comply
Tampering with Free and Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice
Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare
Katrina: Failure to Plan for the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond to a Civil Emergency
Misleading Congress and the American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change
Repeatedly Ignored and Failed to Respond to High Level Intelligence Warnings of Planned Terrorist Attacks in the US, Prior to 911.
Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001
Endangering the Health of 911 First Responders