Monday, July 9, 2007

The Cost Of Freedom

The price of democracy is eternal vigilance. Somebody said that.

We have not been vigilant, we have been watching TV.

We think the country runs on its own, the heavy lifting having already been done by those who gave us the minimum wage, eight-hour day and worker’s compensation, ended war.

They suffered, they struggled, they died, that we might be free – that is where our thanks should go and where our examples lie – not in the military.


Is This Heaven?

by Mike Palecek

I just kinda doubt it.

When I was working for the Cherokee Daily Times, about an hour from here, I did a story on a local rendering works operation. Inside there was a chute, a window, under which there was a huge pile of pig carcasses in various stages of decay, decomposition, the journey to the next world.

The tour through the plant follows a dribble of stuff that is the slush, the breakdown, the demi-glace of those carcasses.

Hog Hell is how I imagined it.

Geezuz God. I really, really doubt we are treating our animals as Yahweh or Buddah or Allen the Alien intended it. This can't be right.

Hot enough for ya?

In Iowish that can mean either, I see you are lathered in a sweaty foam from your head to your toes, or I can't think of anything else to say that you might understand.

They come from Remsen and Grand Rapids, San Antonio, Idaho Springs, Bloomington, Laguna Beach, and everywhere else.

I have to tell you about a great book project I am involved with. It's been gestating for about a year now and is almost ready to pop.

"Cost of Freedom" is a non-fiction book that tells the story of a whole bunch of United States people who have been working for peace during these incredible Bush years.

The book was my idea. I guess I can say that. But beyond that there are lots of great people who have taken it from there, big-time.

I heard something on local radio that said the soldiers dying in Iraq were preserving our freedom.

That is a damn lie.

It's the protesters who are fighting to preserve our liberty. Our liberty is not in danger over in Iraq. We are in dutch right over here on our own Main Street. We've got trouble right here in River City, Des Moines, Early.

I was lucky to find Whitney Trettien in Baltimore to help me find the stories, edit, compile, and then send on to this fantastic publisher, Michael Annis at Howling Dog Press in Berthoud, Colorado.

This from Annis asking me to try my hardest not to say anything too stupid when I tell everyone about COF:

" copies being sent out now; retail and online copies available soon.

"Also, please refer to it as Cost of Freedom without the "The," when you use it as a title formally, and give the ISBN. We need to stay clear on the title for how it will be listed, keeping it as consistent as possible now."

I don't know the ISBN. I'll find out, then I'll forget it again. How's that?

Whitney is a young genius and Michael is an old dog genius, a street-fighter publisher who does beautiful work.

Actually, I don't know how old Michael is. I don't think anyone does. He is the mysterious mountain man of the publishing industry.

The three of us have never met, never talked on the phone, never seen each other or heard the sound of each other's voice.

Is that weird?

I dunno.

I have to say that I "know" a lot of people just by email. That's probably not great, but without email and the Internet I would not have known them at all.

Anywho ...

This is a great book. I'm pretty sure.

Just check out the endorsements it has received already from Ralph Nader, Thom Hartmann, Noam Chomsky and Harry effing Belafonte.

Can you believe it?

Believe it.

For myself, I am just so genuinely grateful to be a part of this project that I could spit.

I'm serious.

Just as I was serious when I got so pissed off when I heard the radio announcer say the military was protecting our freedom.

I know for a fact, that it's folks in Kalamazoo and Cleveland and Council Bluffs and Carmel who are saving our bacon.

These goddamn modern heroes take it upon themselves to listen to the nightly news on TV and decipher what is a lie and what is the truth.

They go to Ben Franklin and buy poster board and Magic Markers and clear everything off the dining room table and go to work.

And then they walk out the front door and stand on the street corner of Their Own Hometown and say what they know is the truth.

That is exactly what this country is about.

All those colonial dudes would be most-awesomely proud of these people.

We all are.

THIS is what freedom is all about.

Howling Dog Press:

Cost of Freedom websites:




Are you civically indifferent to officialdom's criminality and brutality against the powerful and defenseless, against children, mothers and fathers, against our constitution and other laws of the land? If this collection of passionate and rational prose, poetry, photographs, and quotes from our courageous forebears does not stir you to join with other patriots for democratic actions and restorations, you are indeed civically inactive. And that's no way to be self-respectful."

Ralph Nader

This varied and exciting collection graphically reveals the vitality and expanse of the popular movements opposing violence and criminal ventures abroad. It should inspire many more to join in these efforts to create a powerful force of concerned citizens that cannot be ignored, and that will help shape a much more hopeful and decent future.

Noam Chomsky

'Cost of Freedom' is a beautiful, accessible, and meaningful history of recent American anti-war movements that should be on the coffee tables of every American home."

Thom Hartmann, Air America Radio

There is good reason to have at your disposal things that remind you of things as they are. Cost of Freedom is a perfect candidate; it does more than remind: it also informs.

Harry Effing Belafonte


From "Cost of Freedom"

Frank Kaiser, of Clearwater, Florida, sends out an email newsletter called "Suddenly Senior."

In one of his letters he sent his readers an essay of his own asking How Many More Must Die? in which he questioned the war.

"I decided to write the column because ... the truth was not being told."

He received many responses from his readers. Some are included in "Cost of Freedom."

I know you are a liberal and doing a great injustice to our great men that wear the uniform. My husband was a Pearl Harbor Survivor. He thinks you are misinformed and don't know what you are talking about. You should be ashamed of yourself!! Oh! and by the way, our men and women over in Iraq feels [sic] deeply this war is just!

We know that this war, like Vietnam, was born of lies. Phanton WMDs. Phony links with 911.

No doubt about it. Bush is an idiot leading this country down the path towards being a third world entity! And the sooner he is removed from office the better off the country [world] will be.

I think that you are the most misguided person I have ever heard from. We lost 2000+ men and women so far. If we hadn't gone over there there's no telling how many Americans would be dead now. By terrorists. I hate to see anyone die in war but this time I think it is necessary to kill as many terrorists as they send to Iraq to kill our troops.

I am disgusted with you. You want to tell jokes? Fine. But now you are one of the left wing zany nuts comparing 2005 to Vietnam of the '60s. Phoooey on you and all of you liberal no-gooders. I won't read you again. I am an American and I am proud to be an American. I enlisted in the Army -- dropping out of college in 1961 -- when the Berlin Wall went up. Good-bye forever you no-gooder.

Keep up the good work informing us old farts on the spin that this little spoiled SOB and his greedy crew are pulling on its citizenry. I often ask myself, just how much money do they want. Christ, this is way past greed.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

And I Laugh

"I've had a number of firefighters tell me over the years and since Fahrenheit 9/11 that they heard these explosions — that they believe there's MUCH more to the story than we've been told. I don't think the official investigations have told us the complete truth — they haven't even told us half the truth." — Michael Moore

Is This Heaven?

by Mike Palecek

This is Iowa.

Where "Hip Hop" is the new joint replacement wing on the nursing home.

And where the entire state is eligible to park in the handicapped zone — because we love war.


Writers often have a person in mind when they write.

I don't know how that happens or how we choose that person. But I think we imagine that person liking a particular sentence, or not liking, and hoping to please.

I think we also start out imagining things like being famous, like Hemmingway, or about one million writers in The Large Book Of Hot-Shot Writers that has everybody in it but us.

The other day someone posted a comment on one of my articles on Op-Ed News.

Nothing to add to try and further your line of thought.

I just want you to know that I am reading your articles and I enjoy them and your perspective very much.

It seemed important for me to simply tell you.

Tell you Thank You.

Please keep up the good work and the great articles.

A Fan

That's all the thanks I get?

You know, you really do imagine yourself writing for "the masses" — for a whole bunch of people. But for a whole bunch of us, that just isn't going to happen. And it's an awful lot of work, years and years, to have put into this and not have a whole bunch of people reading what we wrote.

But I was thinking, what is wrong with having spent all that time for one person to have enjoyed it.

Nothing is wrong with it. Everything is right with it.

Just imagine someone dusting off your old paperback, "How Brown Was My Rhubarb," and taking it off to a corner of the library and spending the afternoon lost in this world you have created — just as you had imagined when you spent a whole fall, winter, spring and summer sweating and swearing and worrying and lovingly piecing this 100,000 piece puzzle together.

I'd say that's more than a plenty.


Recently I asked a friend in Des Moines to send out a note about my books to his list of contacts around the state.

I appreciated that he did that, but I had to notice what he included in his synopsis of who I am.

He said that I was a friend of the Des Moines Catholic Worker "despite my run for Congress."

I think that is hilarious.

It's just like someone from the left. I do it myself all the time. I applaud that person's work with lepers and shutting down the private prison industry. He gets my praise despite his evil love of arena football.

I know the Catholic Worker movement frowns on organized politics and voting and all.

But I remember as I was driving around the state back in 2000, sweating in my little car, trying to talk to mostly conservative folks about prisons, and the military and immigrants — well, I already knew my old friends in the peace movement didn't think much of my running for office.

But I also had to smile to myself — I was out working on my own so I was the only one there — that one reason there was nobody out there with me was because it is just a tremendous amount of work and it's much easier to say it doesn't matter.


"Sicko" is kicking butt, right? That is super. Though it's still not around here yet.

Now we need some movies to embarrass the shit out of folks who think a $1.50 raise in the minimum wage every ten years is enough, and somebody to make a movie about Iowa Congressman Steve King and his persecution of Mexicans, and the general attitude in the United States about immigrants — how we let them die in the desert and scold them for having the audacity to want to live.


I'm waiting for Harry Potter the book and the movie. Should be pretty cool.

I like the openings and all the setting and the new things she throws in.

Toward the end they all follow the same path toward the pat conclusion and I lose interest.

But the beginnings are awesome.


There are over 700 U.S. military bases around the world. And yet nobody in America thinks we have an empire.

["The Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and has another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories." — Chalmers Johnson:]

Nobody knows that we extended our "manifest destiny" to include the whole world, solely to allow our corporations to sell more stuff. And we killed and will continue killing to sell our stuff.

You gotta know the territory.


I just watched "The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib." [NetFlix. "Sir, No Sir" is on the way, even as we speak.]

I wonder how we are going to keep it in our minds, to remember what scum is Donald Rumsfeld, is George Bush, is Dick Cheney, is Colin Powell, is Karl Rove.

We will forget.

We've already forgotten The Sopranos.

And some day the Sunday Night Baseball announcers will point out one or all of them in the crowd and say they were great, honorable men, and nobody will deny it.


In the film "Severe Visibility" by Paul Cross there is talk about the possibility that it was a missile that hit the Pentagon on 9/11 and not an airplane.

There is footage of a missile, with little wings at the back, maybe it's a Cruise missile, I'm not sure.

I saw one of these out in South Dakota. It was either the 1980s or 1990s. I realize that's a big bunch of time, but I don't think the timing is important.

Ruth's parents used to live on a farm eight miles between Menno and Freeman. I would often either go for a run or a walk down the gravel road a couple of miles to this black dirt, soft, luscious road heading north for one mile. Dude, I needed my space.

One day I was walking along and I saw this thing coming toward me, not toward me, but heading over the field next to me, at a height of a tall tree plus maybe a machine shed on top of that. When it got to me — it headed straight up, did a loop-de-loo and headed off on a straight line, maintaining the same altitude, off in the direction of Yankton.

It was not an airplane, more like a missile. How could it be controlled like that? Like a toddler was standing nearby with a remote control making it do the loop-de-loo?

And if there was not a talented toddler nearby, how would those controlling it know not to crash it back into the ground after the loop, but to make a perfect dollop and head off?

I dunno.

I told Ruth what I saw. The conversation lasted about negative five seconds. And that was that.

I have thought about it, but just to wonder what the "h" it was.

Like I said, I don't even know what decade it was that I saw it.



If you write you probably come across things every once in awhile that you wish you could steal.

My all-time favorite was written by Tom Ryan.

Tom is a naturalist and manages Oxbow State Park in southeast Minnesota, near Rochester. In the early 1990s Tom wrote a column for the small paper Ruth and I owned, The Byron Review.

Tom once recounted a true story about being in confession as youngster.

He and a friend sat on both sides of the priest, and Tom could not help but hearing his friend's litany of sins, all the things he had done that he was confessing.

The other boy's sliding door closed.

The priest turned to Tom's side, opened the little sliding door, and Tom said, "I was with him."


When 9/11 happened I remember reading it all in the Sioux City Journal because I had an early morning route. Ruth worked in the dental office in Sioux Center, and I think I was trying to write a novel, and maybe take care of Emily and maybe I mowed the lawn and washed some dishes too, maybe.

I wrote "The Truth" because to me it was all lies.

Well, we know so much of it was lies by now, but then, when it was on TV and you were maybe around a bunch of people who worshiped George Bush, you had to pinch yourself and tell yourself this is really happening, they are lying to the American people all over television and the newspapers and the radio — and everyone is believing it.

It helped me to write "The Truth" and I did receive some nice comments. There were about one hundred copies sent out for review and maybe one or two came back — that is were actually reviewed — and two or three folks also wrote notes and said they liked it.

That was awesome.

From "The Truth," published by Writers Publishing Cooperative of New Hampshire.

And I Laugh

There's a photo on the Internet that makes me laugh.

A little brown boy holding a silent scream forever in four-color.


The horrified little fellow now has no arms or legs, or brothers, sisters or parents, and I laugh out loud.

I laugh at the Marines, being all they could possibly be in God's creation, at their tough-man commercials. The Army of One. What a hoot.

The rough-guy coaches and players who let this boy die — what comedy watching them feel strong while letting the real battles be fought by little guys with sticks and bicycles.

The boy has a bandaged head.

He looks so scared his hair might turn white, as in a Hitchcock film, and it sort of makes me chuckle.

I laugh at the ministers here in town and here on this TV saying bless our troops as they defend our freedom.

I laugh at the well-schooled and coifed newspaper columnists with their earnest close-cropped photos in four hundred papers read by forty million people in forty million cities.

And I laugh.

The boy is flat on his back on dirty cement, with his stubs hastily wrapped in Ace bandages, surrounded by the world trying to get a look, by photographers and people on their way to work and out to dinner.

We are nothing.



Because this boy now has no arms.

No legs.

Nothing we will do today will mean a thing because we have ripped the arms and legs from this boy as if he were a fly and we are us.

This boy who could be my boy, lying there at the feet of the world and the world looking the other way.

Goddamn us.


Give us what we deserve.

If you are a just God, rain down fire and hell upon our heads. Lightning bolts upon our backyard decks and rivers of excrement down our smooth, well-scrubbed streets.

Please, dear God we pray.

When I awoke this morning I thought it essential to the world order and being right, and a good person, that I shave, help out with the dishes, be on time, and drive on the right side of the road.

Do a good job. Be pleasant.


But now I just can't stop laughing.

The world thinks it still matters, and that's kind of funny in a way.

There, the flag flying over the Catholic elementary school and the yellow ribbons tied to the light poles on both sides of Main Street.

Stray cats wearing yellow ribbons around their necks, roaming the night, looking both ways before crossing the street, as if it mattered.

You are never so wrong as when you damage a young boy.

We sit down here like the Who's in Whoville celebrating the coming of War Season while this boy lies on the cold floor.

Tee. Hee-hee.

Friday, July 6, 2007

"Good Morning Iowa!"

Is This Heaven?

by Mike Palecek

In the film "Sir, No Sir!" there is a brief account of a clandestine anti-war radio station, "Radio First Termer," operated from a brothel in Saigon by Dave Rabbit, an active duty American service member.


In my first book, "KGB," one of the characters operates an underground radio station in Sioux City, Iowa.

I think part of the allure of writing fiction is that you can make things occur in the world that you want to happen.

The stop light on your way home is always green, your lawn turns brown and you don't have to mow, your car never runs out of gas.

You can place a radical radio station in downtown Sioux City, even though as you drive around the city the air is not electric but stifling.

Elana Usak is the owner, reporter, crew of Radio Free Siouxland.

Usak was my grandmother's maiden name. I never met her. She came from Prague in the very early part of the last century. She was pregnant with my father during the trip over on some big ship called the Washington. She lived in a boxcar in South Dakota for two years. I don't recall ever seeing a picture of her.

I don't know why they came over from Prague.

Or why they came out here: Ellis Island; Chicago; Verdigre, Nebraska; Winner, South Dakota.

But it must have took some kind of spirit. Wow. I guess it's up to me to imagine what she might have been like.

Elana is pursued by agents of the Federal Communications Commission.

She employs help from a sympathetic instructor at Morningside College. She meets Paul, her starry-eyed backwoods groupie, gets thrown into the Woodbury County Jail.

She becomes part of a prisoner plot to take revenge for the killing of the poor in the invasion of Panama, the destroying of millions of American lives by the prison industry, the murder of Iraqi people in the first Gulf War, the slaughter of so many peasants in El Salvador whose crime was to try to breath the same air also coveted by Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

I am sitting here in the living room with the two cats. Emily is getting ready to go to work at Hy-Vee. Ruth and Sam are already at work. I'll go over to Dordt College soon to sweat out my sins on the stair-stepper, then to work at the group home until eleven.

The noon "AP News Report" just came on the radio.

If I were a young person maybe I'd hop up to shut it off. Instead how about sticking my fingers in my ears and singing loud, "Da, da, da ... da, da, da ..."

Is it over?

Here's to Dave and Elana and my grandmother.


From KGB:

[The book can be purchased on, or ordered through a local bookstore.]

Paul Novotny sat in traffic counting steps.

The noonday glare pissed him off. He clenched his teeth and slammed down the visor.

It's the sensitive types who climb the water tower with high-powered rifles. Paul resumed his reverie. They drive us to it. The bastards.

Hiking his sweat pants into the fold between his ribs and chest, Paul raised his chin to view himself in the mirror and see if he was gay.

Paul strained to tune the radio. In his peripheral vision he saw the light switching to yellow. He sensed the cars around him sliding away.

The white Camry with gold stripes behind him shouted its horn. Paul held up his finger to the rear window and continued to search the dial with his left hand.

"Paul Harvey, good day."


"You look wonderful tonight."


"Sirhan. Sirhan."

"With atrazine ... Gggll ... I'm Bob Edwards."

The Camry edged closer, nudging Paul's tan Escort.

Paul decided to dis' the out of town plates.

He leaned into the brake pedal, motioned the Camry driver around and walked the radio tuning arrow right.

The right lane had cleared, but the Camry driver blew his horn, rolled down his window and shouted at Paul to get the fuck out of the way.

She had to be there.

The light changed to red. The lanes filled up around Paul. The Camry inched back. A black and white Sioux City police cruiser pulled up next to Paul. He pushed the shifter into first and stared ahead. Paul turreted his head right. The black officer glared at Paul until Paul looked away.

He watched the light while moving the knob with his right hand.

The light clicked to green.

Paul moved away within the flow.

He spread his thighs and picked his balls free. He signaled and moved to the right lane. He put his left hand in the window and gave the Camry a no-look finger. Paul turned right up Nebraska Street.

Looking up the hill he saw the walk way between Norwest and Penney's, the sidewalks littered with walkers, lingering fog, orange and yellow blinkers.

Paul steered with his knees while he lit an Old Gold.

He rolled his window down.

The KZOO morning show went to commercial. Paul eased in behind a purple mini-van and tried again.

He heard crackling. His arm ached.

Then he noticed a familiar tone. He back-tracked and fine-tuned.

"Good day, my friend," the deep female voice brought the day's first smile.

Paul cranked the wheel, and on the green cut-off a Yellow Cab to park on the curb. He put the car in gear, stopped the engine, then turned the key and sighed in relief at the return of the voice.

"This is Radio Free Siouxland, broadcasting the seeds of the revolution with legs astride the weather ball in downtown, on top of the Terra Centre, Sioux City, Iowa."

Paul pulled the lever to recline the seat. He tugged the emergency brake and pushed the button locking the doors. He pried each heel from his tennis shoes and watched the road and foot traffic with narrowing eyes.

He strained to see the weather ball on top of that one building next to the cop shop.

"When the weather ball be red, we all be dead. The weather ball be green, Wall Street obscene. Weather ball be blue, they come lookin' for you. Weather ball be white, no brothers in sight.

"Yes, the weather ball be black, bad times are back.

"But you know that rain is good for the crops, don't they say?

"But today we play! We're going to send out some Jackson Browne, Lou Reed and Mr. John Prine for you this morning.

"This is Elana ... at KFU."

Pretending to sleep, Paul watched a mail carrier in shorts and knee socks coming down the sidewalk with an antenna sticking out of his mailbag.

"Remember, all next week I'll be on a clandestine remote from the Southern Hills Mall. Bring your Walkman and we be jammin'."

The mailman passed without incident.

Paul swiveled his head slowly and saw two brown men on the corner, a line of sweat down both of their white T-shirts. Aha! thought Paul. Wetbacks. He turned up his radio as a sheriff's car sped by. Paul scrunched further down.

"You know, as I sit in my window and watch you all hurrying to work I wonder if we've used up all our tokens, you know? If we're coming to the end of the line. You been hearing about the Truth Commission in South Africa?

"Why don't we have a Truth Commission in the United States? Who killed Bobby Kennedy?"

Paul shot up and worked the knob as she drowned in static.

"You killed Martin King? Why? Excuse, me, Mr. Haig, Ms. Kirkpatrick, Mr. Abrams, just how many people did we kill in El Salvador? And did we care that they had their heads cut off, their organs stuffed into their mouths?


Paul stuck his right hand into his front right pocket. He dug way down, fishing for a cigarette. He pulled up a watermelon Lifesaver.

He picked off what lint he could and stuck it into his mouth.

"Yes, Mr. Clinton why can't Leonard Peltier get a fair trial?" Paul's lady went on. "What is the FBI up to around here? Let's organize a Cub Scout tour of the Hoover building and that CIA compound and that National Security Agency.

"What's this all about? May we help you citizen?

"Yes, I'd like to read that file and that one over there, too. And I'll take two of those chartreuse folders with the burgundy clips. Yee-ees. Honey, there, Mr. Director, come sit on my lap and tell me what you been up to today, now chil'."

Paul felt motion.

He felt as if he were slipping off the planet, like Apollo I in free-fall.


His rear bumper hit the front bumper of the yellow taxi behind him. Paul jerked around and saw the vehicle was empty. He started the car and pulled up a few feet.

"You know what I'm saying?" she said. "Poverty is not the problem, but the solution. We need to look for the lie, friends, look for the lie.

"Listen. Y'all. I got to be gone. I can hear the pitter-patter of little jackboots on my walk. Lou and John will have to stay the night with me. Seems that we're out of time. No more tokens to play today.

"Here's that Jack Browne I was promising. Lives In The Balance. I've been waiting for something to happen. Y'all be good.

"Until tomorrow — stop obeying."

Elana saw Paul Novotny pull in front of the beer truck.

She saw Woodbury County Sheriff Jeremiah Williger driving slowly past.

From her second floor perch she noticed the navy blue Ford and the two insurance men who could have been Federal Communications Commission agents in another life. The springtime morning air chilled the sweat on her forehead.

She closed her eyes, sucked down the pancake aroma from the Nebraksa Cafe below her and considered her good fortune.

Her living room was full of plants and radio machinery, second-hand stuff, microphone, mixing board, transmitter, cart machine, CD players she had picked up at a ham operators swap meet during the Sturgis Rally summers ago, all on a bare, shining hardwood floor.

The antenna ran up the inside wall to the roof and connected to the line running up the side of the First Security Tower, giving her use of the largest building in the city.

They were getting close. She felt it. She thought about staying off the air for a while.

Returning to the office living room, Elana shook her head to get the sticky hair out of her eyes.

Holding her cup with both hands in front of her face she stepped close to the poster of a bridge in Prague hoping to see her father.

The laminated newspaper columns and her diploma from the "U" attempted to fill the south wall and cover the pockmarks in the legal pad-yellow texture.

She moved in swaying elephant steps to the bookshelf, uneven strips of boards from the alley Dumpster supported by chipped bricks and concrete blocks.

She had lifted them from the FirstStar Bank construction site on Western Avenue and hauled them up the two flights in her backpack on successive August solo Hamm's Lite party nights.

She scanned the titles for something new: Journalism texts, Radio For Dummies, The Complete Manual of Pirate Radio, Radio Free Berkeley Yearbook, Basic Electronics, FCC Rulebook, Czech Book of Verbs.

A year's worth of The Sioux City Journal, Des Moines Register, Sioux Falls Argus Leader and New York Times was stacked neatly in piles next to the bookstand.

Elana returned to the window, the sidewalks and streets now empty.

She shook her head and snorted softly.

She was probably the only person ever to move to Sioux City to get away from the Twin Cities.

She put the cup under her nose and breathed deep, expanding her economical chest. She squatted and set the smoking cup on the window ledge, and resting her chin on her arms, welcomed the chill of the spring morning.

Why did that angry little man park at the curb each morning?

Was the beer man single or did he have three kids and a house with no trees up on a hill east of the mall.

What would it be like to be the older man there in the suit, walking with a briefcase from the '50s from his brick home and grandkids in Morningside.

Maybe she could become a teaching Franciscan at Briar Cliff, eat with a group and play cards, or walk giggling to a movie in the evening.

They'd excuse one little ol' abortion, forgiveness is their cash crop, for Jesus-mageezuz.

Ride in a station wagon to the dog races in Omaha on the Fourth of July. Drink keg beer from flowered paper cups on a fairy tale June evening sitting on donated lawn chairs in one humongous wooded back yard.

Elana sipped her coffee and spilled on her top. She patted her breast and saw that the square Ford sat empty.

She leaned her forehead into the screen and watched the heel of a black shoe going into the building.

She sprinted into the dining room, flopped onto her stomach and pressed her ear to the floor.

She heard a flurry of scuffles and thuds coming up the stairs.

Shh. Shh. Boomboomboomboom.

Elana sprang.

She grabbed her jacket from the wall, scooped tapes into her backpack, unhooked the screen, lifted it and brought it inside, setting it against the wall.

Two alternating hammers beat the door.

"FCC! Open the door!"

A plastic photo ID slid under the door along the wood floor.

She got down on all fours to read it.


Why were good looking guys always mad at her?

Elana stepped through the open window, grabbed the ledge and eased herself down to hang.

A retired couple from Sergeant Bluff, seated in one of the front booths, startled when Elana's white Reebocks popped down to slam the middle of the cafe window.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Disobey The U.S.A.

“The Trouble With Our State”
By Daniel Berrigan

The trouble with our state
was not civil disobedience
which in any case was hesitant and rare.

Civil disobedience was rare as kidney stone
No, rarer; it was disappearing like immigrant’s disease.

You’ve heard of a war on cancer?
There is no war like the plague of media
There is no war like routine
There is no war like 3 square meals
There is no war like a prevailing wind.

It flows softly; whispers
don’t rock the boat!
The sails obey, the ship of state rolls on.

The trouble with our state
– we learned only afterward
when the dead resembled the living who resembled the dead
and civil virtue shone like paint on tin
and tin citizens and tin soldiers marched to the common whip

– our trouble
the trouble with our state
with our state of soul
our state of siege –

Is This Heaven?

by Mike Palecek

Disobey the USA.

That is what I encourage.

Sit down and consider how bad you think things are, our leaders, our lies, our FBI and CIA and CBS, and murdering troops.

And the truth is, it's probably ten times as bad as the worst thing you can imagine.

And now ...

Scooter Libby isn't going to prison.

That part's just fine.

Anybody named "Scooter" should not be put into prison.

Actually, nobody should be in prison.

Prisons and jails are immoral. They are mean and bad and nobody should go there.

You say, well, they are not supposed to be nice.

Well, they are not. And you do not know shit about the world. Go back to your church league softball game.

Okay, maybe I'm sorry I said that.

More likely I'm not.

Go to jail and then come and tell me that anyone should be there.

Or go visit someone you love who is in prison. Then come visit me. We might have more to talk about then.

We are supposed to be intelligent beings. We should be able to think of something else.

Bush said he commuted Scooter Libby's sentence because it was excessive.

Of course, he is a liar. That is a given. When he tells his children it is nice outside they put on winter coats, because "Dad is a fucking liar."

It wasn't. Excessive. Bush gave Libby something and now Libby won't snitch on Cheney and Bush and whoever else.

That's the way it's done.

Just for kicks, what about all the thousands of people in prison right now for marijuana "crimes." For possessing and using a plant that grows naturally. Is there a chance that might be "excessive?"

Anybody in Terminal Island these days for distribution of Coors Light?

Is your headache and memory loss and spousal loss this morning due to ... oh, forget it. Let's move on.

What about these headlines that we have pretty much forgotten, just like the millions of lost souls in our prisons:

Is it possible that the anthrax attacks were launched from within our own government? A former Bush 1 advisor thinks it is.


Point of View By JIM FETZER
One man's opinion: Evidence indicates that Wellstone crash was no accident

Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan No Coincidence
by Ira Chernus

Shit, there are one hundred more headlines that could go here regarding the Bush crimes: torture, stealing elections.

I still can't believe those two.

Can't believe we don't tear down the White House fences to get at these criminals and haul them to federal district court.

And yet they are not sitting in prison, eating meatloaf squares next to some guy from Duluth who sold a plant and won't be able to ever watch his son's ballgames, because he doesn't get out of the federal prison in Milan for another eighteen effing years.

I was happy to serve my country in prison, but for the record, I went to prison for Stepping Over A White Line.

It was definitely political. I kept doing it and doing it, and it was well-known that it was in opposition to the United States military.

I wasn't trying to get onto the air force base to oooh and aaah at the new Stealth bombers.

It's obvious that it's all political, that's all.

Bush is a liar. He is a murderer.

He should be in Terre Haute Penitentiary right now, or Lewisburg or Leavenworth or a SuperMax in Colorado.

Or, might I also recommend the Sarpy County Jail, not so far from Offutt Air Force Base, south of Omaha.

That would do just fine. The people of the United States would be well served by having His Moron Fuck Highness in one of those dark little cages for a few years.

That's all I'm saying.

If we are going to have these idiotic things called prisons, then there should be a bunk and a register number and a meatloaf square and a stainless steel toilet for the biggest idiot of them all.


— Mike

Before I left on my book tour this past spring I sent a letter.

March 27, 2007

Internal Revenue Service
Kansas City, MO 64999-002


Enclosed is a crossed-out tax form.

I will not cooperate with the murderous regime of George W. Bush.

President Bush and his administration planned and carried out the attacks on the United States on 9-11-01, in order to attack Iraq and steal their oil.

In the eyes of Bush and Cheney and Rove, the war is going according to plan. They and their friends are making millions, billions, from the oil, from the defense industry, while the poor go without, while social services are cut in order to pay for more war and killing.

As a Christian, I cannot go along with this.

I must protest.


Mike Palecek

Palecek website:

Palecek blog:


C.B. Smith, Madhatters Review

Tony Christini, Mainstay Press

Jason Miller, TomPaine's Corner

Mickey Z:


Hearing Noam Chomsky

So This Is Christmas, And What Have You Done?


• Reviews: Positive Universe

• Cryptomundo, Looking For Bigfoot

• NCW, What the Critics Say About

— Review of Twins, Nimble Spirit, Michael Wilt

— Review of The Truth, Sheila Conroy

Sunday, July 1, 2007

There Are No Terrorists, Only Bush

"The greatest purveyor of violence on earth is my own government."

— Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"This planet is deeply troubled, and the main cause of it is our own government."

— Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark


Is This Heaven?

by Mike Palecek

This is Iowa, where all the cucumbers are strong, all the tomatoes are good looking, and all the bell peppers, are above average.

The American Dream.

We're screaming one morning on a changing table.

We look up and there it is, all around us.

Faces and TVs, toasters, ice makers, toast.

From then on it never stops.

We are living in the dream. We are it. It is us.

There is no getting out of the dream.

Unless we make ourselves wake up.

I submit that the American Dream is not real.

I don't know any more about what really has happened in our history than you do, but I do believe we have been lied to at various times.

That is grand theft.

A theft of our identity.

We don't even know who we are because we cannot decipher fact from fiction in our history books.

I think we need to ask more questions. We need to be more curious and not accept what rich men and women tell us is the truth just because we equate riches with accomplishment, worth and knowledge.

We need to fight hard for the truth. What else do we have.

How can we go another day without really knowing what the hell is going on?


Forget about the car bomb fire in Glasgow and the alleged car bombs in London.

They are CIA disinformation projects designed to ultimately bring about dictatorial powers for George Bush and Dick Cheney, via the recent presidential directive whereby Bush game himself total power in the case of a national emergency.

And then there's the looming invasion of Iran.

There are those who say this government is too stupid to pull off this kind of stuff, or that they are incapable of such evil.

I think Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and probably nine guys we don't even know about are plenty smart to do this, and also to kill Paul Wellstone and pull off the 911 attacks, as well as a hundred things we don't even know about.

I think there is no question they have it in their hearts to commit murder.

They shed no tears over the thousands of American and Iraq citizens killed in their nonsense, made-up war over oil.

This is what I believe.

You believe what you want.

That is your right. Do it. Go for it.

Do not believe what I want you to believe, or what George Bush or Dick Cheney or some CIA drone robot reporter on "The Nightly News" wants you to believe.

Be a beacon, a light of hope shining from the rocks out into the night.

One of a thousand points of light leading the prison bus on to Leavenworth packed with members of the Bush family, handcuffed and shackled.


We will always be able to believe what we want.

God Bless America.

We may not always be able to say what we want or write what we want.

But deep within each soul and heart and mind will always be a refuge of hope and compassion and reason and spirit and humor and life.

For now we are able to say what we want. It is important to do that so we keep the right.

My current bumper stickers say:

— Impeach Bush
— Jail Bush
— 911 Was An Inside Job

I feel those messages do some good toward moving this huge effing ship with my one chipped, weathered oar toward some unseen port of good hope.

— At each stop sign or red light, and when I get passed on the highway or when I pass someone.

— When I park on the street at home.

— When I park on the street at work in one of the most conservative little towns in the universe.

Some folks might say, hell, yes, this Bush bunch is a gang of criminals, but let's just get out of Iraq, focus on that.


Let's get out of Iraq and solve this legacy thing.

I need to know what our true history is.

Or else lets just not have high school history books.

Is it ironic that Oswald was supposed to be in a window of the building that distributes these things to schools all over the country?

Why should a teacher spend her whole lifetime devoted to spreading lies.

Because we have no help from the regular media, we might not get to the bottom of this until Bush and Cheney are out of office or dead.

But to know that Cheney, Bush, Rove, and Rumsfeld's mutated lizard spawn will have to live each and every moment of their seemingly endless, dreary, desperate, inconsequential, horrid little lives with the knowledge that the world knows the truth about their serpent-tongue family ... is at least ... well ... it's just got to make you smile ... no matter who you are.

Lots of people know about the basics of the 911 Truth movement, but lots more do not.

If you are interested, just fyi:

If you want, Google these: Loose Change, 911 Truth, 911 Blogger, David Ray Griffin, William Rodriguez, 911 Press for Truth, Dr. Steven Jones, Kevin Barrett.




In my novel "Looking For Bigfoot" an Iowan named Jack Robert King — an underground radio announcer — takes off for Oregon to "find Bigfoot," to find the truth about America and all its myths and lies.

Jack wants to find out if this is a great country — or what.

I have been fortunate lately to be invited on a few radio shows for interviews in Sante Fe, Sioux Falls, Vancouver, Madison.

Over the years I have been invited onto shows with Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Szymanski, Black Op Radio, Kevin Barrett, A'Jamal Byndon.

Also Arts Magazine on WBAI radio, New York City.

At first I was not too excited about doing that, or talking to people on a book tour. I wanted to be Joe Author sitting at home with the world stopping by every now and then to kiss his ring.

But nobody came and they kept on not coming.

And I found out it's kind of fun to get out of the compound once in awhile and talk to people.

I'll be on "Radio Active Lunch" July 4th.

I received this very nice email note inviting me.

Pretty cool.


— Mike


Hi Mike

Adam Roufberg from FreeRangeThought here. I just got approved for my new program (website under construction) on WVKR - Vassar College Radio.

My first program is on the 4th of July and I can think of no better time to start such a program as I intend this to be, and no better person than yourself to join me to discuss your book "The American Dream" — which I find to be an amazing work (you are my new favourite writer, now that Vonnegut is dead).

The program airs from 12 noon - 1 PM and streams live on the internet. I will have some live music as well and, if you can stay with me for the entire hour, we can bounce back and forth between conversation and music. If you can make it on and have a time constraint, let me know.

I look forward to hearing from you.


From LFBF:

[Looking For Bigfoot is published by Howling Dog Press.]

This is Jack Robert King on his radio show, which he airs from his home, the farm house that sits on the Field of Dreams movie site near Dyersville, Iowa.

"Is this heaven?

"Hell no.

"This morning's program is brought to you by National Guard Deodorant.

"If you want to overcome the smell of abject terror rising from beneath your body armor like swamp mist, throw on some National Guard. Keep 'em thinkin' you're a tough guy.

"Available in stick and spray.

"Look for the camouflaged box and the picture of George W. Bush in flight gear.

"What would you do if you saw a real alien, in person? What would you really, actually, honestly do if somehow you knew the truth about that day in Dallas?

"What could you do?"

"Would you write a reasoned letter to the editor so that everyone would know the truth along with you?

"Would you report it to the proper authorities?

"Would you forget about it?

"Would you drive your car into a fence post?

"... we are liars when we go around the world, kill others and call that fighting for our freedom.

"When professional athletes go on television, say at Christmas time, and say thanks to the troops for protecting our freedom, that is a huge lie.

"They are not protecting us.

"They are killing for Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney and others in order to make rich men even richer.

"How stupid do they think we are?

"The truth is not available in any newspaper stand or magazine or from the lips of Tom Brokaw.

"To find the truth about America you have to look in the shadows, under the rocks, run after the loose pieces of paper blowing across the convenience store parking lot.

"The truth about America is not to be found in any morning news meeting agenda for CBS.

"It is to be found in pencil scribbles of prisoners in solitary confinement in Terre Haute Penitentiary; it's written on the back of a Pine Ridge grocery store receipt.

"If you want to find out the truth about America you need to open your mind.

"You need to be ready to believe in things they laugh about on 'The Tonight Show' and over morning coffee at the truck stop.

"You will need to say to hell you what you guys think. To hell with you guys — there's something out there and I'm going to find out what it is.

"You need to go looking for Bigfoot."


Palecek website:


C.B. Smith, Madhatters Review

Tony Christini, Mainstay Press

Jason Miller, TomPaine's Corner

Mickey Z:


Hearing Noam Chomsky

So This Is Christmas, And What Have You Done?


• Reviews: Positive Universe

• Cryptomundo, Looking For Bigfoot

• NCW, What the Critics Say About

— Review of Twins, Nimble Spirit, Michael Wilt

— Review of The Truth, Sheila Conroy