May 28 -- This evening here in Virginia, Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band jammed for hours at an outdoor pavilion, leading tens of thousands of us in protest songs, including a powerful rendition of "Bring Them Home." The concert was held at the Nissan Pavilion, a characterless monument to automobiles surrounded by an ocean of the things, cars and trucks and SUVs which spent hours creeping in and out before and after the show. Many of us devoted 8 or 9 hours to hearing 2.5 hours of music and paid $90 for the privilege.
Imagine if Springsteen were to announce a free concert on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. The traffic jam alone would spare us a week's worth of work by Congress. The voices raised in song for peace and justice would have articles of impeachment introduced by the end of the evening, and if the Capitol Police locked us all up we could spend several hours getting out of jail much more enjoyably than getting out of a parking lot.
That we congregate for entertainment rather than political change is not entirely true. Seventy activists were arrested in Nevada today protesting a proposed bomb test. But there should have been seventy thousand arrests, not 70. Public opinion is overwhelmingly against our current government, or rather for restoring the rule of law and the system of democracy laid out in our Constitution.
A lot of people at tonight's concert complimented me on my "Impeach Bush and Cheney" shirt. One guy with a Tennessee accent told me that he worked in a factory in east Tennessee, and that the die-hard Republicans he worked with were turning against Bush because the Weapons of Mass Destruction weren't there and because gas prices were so high.
That's an interesting pair of complaints against Bush. I wonder whether publicizing the intimate relationship between the two would lead to further enlightenment in Tennessee and across the country.
If the war was not fought for WMDs or because of ties to 9-11, if Bush lied about all of that, then why DID he launch this war? Increasingly people seem to be acknowledging that it had something to do with oil. But if it was about getting our hands on the oil, it seems to have been bungled quite badly, because Iraq's oil has not paid for the reconstruction of the country as promised, and our gas prices keep climbing. How incompetent, we're told. Bush is so incompetent! Or so we're told.
Unless he launched this war in order to control Iraq's oil and clamp down on production in order to boost the profits of oil companies. Can you imagine the political ramifications if Republicans upset about both war lies and gas prices understood that the war was, in fact, launched in order to raise the gas prices? Such an understanding could lead to a healthy skepticism toward war, or even, if we're really lucky, a widespread demand for a shift to renewable energy. It could also produce such landslide elections that the results could not be rigged.
Greg Palast's new book documents the control the oil companies have had over Bush's war policies, and the desire they had to remove Saddam Hussein, because he was jerking the price of crude up and down. One week he'd cut off shipments, and the price would jump. The next he'd pump all he could, and prices would plummet. As a Council on Foreign Relations report put it, Saddam was a "destabilizing influence ...to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East."
Let's face it, a crowd of middle-class white folks just sang a bunch of songs with Bruce about the hard times poor people face, largely oblivious to the fact that a few very wealthy people from Houston sent our poor men and women to die so that they could become even wealthier. It wasn't enough for them to take that wild-card Saddam out of the picture and seize illegal cartel-like control over the price of oil they also had to immediately raise it. The oil companies are now in the position Wal-Mart is in the day after the last Mom and Pop store in town closes. They can't resist gouging us, the people who gave the money and blood to put them where they are.
Now, of course, it's also true that the maniacs over at the Project for a New American Century wanted to control Iraq's oil and are now installing in Iraq massive bases and air strips to be used in conquering Iran and Syria. The urgency of ending the war and "Bringing Them Home" is heightened by the fact that our men and women are in Iraq to facilitate more illegal wars.
But back here in the states, perhaps the most effective thing any one of us can do to exploit this teachable moment would be to hang out at a gas station with a poster reading "The War Was for Oil Profits: Bush and Cheney's Friends Are Happy: Are You?"
There should be some long lines of cars getting gas as Memorial Day weekend winds to a close. It's May 29th now, as I finish writing this, Memorial Day. This would also have been a birthday for Cindy Sheehan's son had he not been killed by a criminal president. But Cindy's nephew is two months old today. And Tennessee is one of 48 states in which a majority disapproves of Bush. Hope is very much alive.
Honor our dead. Demand the truth. Bring them home.