The hosts of the Homeland Security Congress were getting anxious. It was ten minutes past the time former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell was scheduled to begin his big announcement. The defense contractors, law enforcement officials and assorted military personnel in the audience were starting to fidget.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Powell is nearly here,” announced the conference host, a woman named Barbara wearing a bright red power suit. “Please sit tight for another few minutes—meet your neighbor! And get ready for what I hear will be an extremely interesting announcement about our nation’s new energy plan.” There was a murmur of forbearing chuckles.
“So really, how long do we think he’ll be?” whispered another of the conference organizers, a muscular woman named Doreen to a man known to her as “Mike Lee.” Like all the conference people, Doreen thought Mike was a higher-up at the eminent public relations firm Burson-Marsteller.
“Well, I just got some really good news,” answered Mike. “Powell’s unfortunately still a half hour away, but he’s got a colleague at the Department of Energy, a guy named Benedict Waterman. He’ll be here in just five minutes. He’ll be accompanied by Bana Slowhorse from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, who I’ve heard puts on an amazing show.”
In fact, Mike had no idea whatsoever where Colin Powell was at this moment; far from being Powell’s liaison from Burson-Marsteller, “Mike Lee” was actually Mike Bonanno from the Yes Men, a group known for impersonating government and corporate officials.
But Mike also had no idea where “Waterman” and “Slowhorse” were. And that was not as planned. “Waterman” was actually Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum, and “Slowhorse” was actually a Native American Tar Sands activist named Gitz Crazyboy.
Finally, in walked Andy and Gitz. But what was that on Andy’s head?
Andy’s wig was supposed to look like the strange ’70s hair of his supposed boss, Department of Energy head Ernesto Muniz. But it had been delivered at 7 a.m. that morning by RuPaul’s wigmaker, who had begun work on it after a drag show ending at 4 a.m.
Doreen turned to Mike. “Wig,” she mouthed, pointing to her head.
“He’s a scientist,” Mike offered. “They don’t know much about hair.”
“That’s not hair,” Doreen answered.
Mike’s heart sank. For the second time in 24 hours, he was certain the jig was up.
The day before, April 30, we were driving from New York to Washington, D.C., headed for the Homeland Security Congress, a conference run by a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman for businesses interested in securing government contracts related to homeland security. Mike had wrangled a speaking spot for Colin Powell by posing as Powell’s agent.
We knew Powell would never arrive. But in his place would be his “collaborators” from the Department of Energy (Andy) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Gitz). They would announce a U.S. government plan to convert the entire country to renewable energy by 2030, dismantling fossil fuel companies in the process and handing ownership of renewable energy production directly to individuals—and to Native American tribes, whose reservations happened to be in some of the windiest and sunniest areas in the United States. The profits would serve as reparations for genocide. The plan was a slightly more radical version of several actual proposals from environmental organizations, including The Solutions Project plans for all 50 states to convert to 100 percent renewable energy.
The Yes Men chose the Homeland Security Congress as our audience for this plan precisely because they were not our people. Many of them would be bonafide, gun-loving, flag-toting, rightwing patriots. Our goal was to see if we could promote this revolutionary (but entirely feasible) plan to people on the exact opposite end of the political spectrum. If we could get even those on the “Dark Side” to embrace a plan to end fossil fuels and democratize energy, it would confirm our suspicions that there’s only one force on Earth that’s holding us back from a sane future: the fossil fuel industry itself, and the tiny number of people who work for it.
But first, we had to actually get to the conference. And one hour out of New York, two phone calls made it seem we never would.
The first call was from Doreen. Mike, posing as a representative of Colin Powell from PR giant Burson-Marsteller, had been speaking to Doreen every other day for the past three weeks. He’d gotten Doreen to schedule Powell to announce at her conference, Obama’s top-secret new Energy Security plan.
For the first time, Doreen sounded suspicious. She’d been trying to reach Mike all morning, and asked Mike some probing questions about where he worked, which office, and how long he’d been there. She ended the call abruptly. When Mike tried to call back a few minutes later, she didn’t pick up.
“It’s over,” he said to Andy, who was riding shotgun.
Ten minutes later, Mike’s phone rang again. It was an unknown D.C. number.
“I work for Burson-Marsteller,” said a woman’s voice. “What office are you with?”
“Uh, Washington,” Mike answered.
“Who hired you?” asked the woman.
“Uh, a man named, uh, Jack Parent,” Mike improvised. “He hired me, you know, on a special project. Very special.”
“There’s no Jack Parent,” said the woman. “Who are you really?” Then she hung up.
“They figured us out. It’s over,” said Mike.
We’d spent months planning this action. Not only was it an amazing opportunity to test out our theory of what’s holding us back from a sane climate policy, it was going to be the final scene in our new movie, The Yes Men Are Revolting. We’d built the entire movie around this scene. We had no more time—and, more importantly, no budget—to come up with a whole other ending. But we decided to continue to Washington anyhow.
Then, 15 minutes outside of D.C., Mike got another phone call.
“Still on schedule? What time can we expect you at the hotel?” Doreen asked.
Mike’s jaw dropped. “I’ll be there.”
“Great,” said Doreen. “Looking forward!”
Slowly, it dawned on us what had happened.
Unable to reach Mike, Doreen had called Burson-Marsteller to find out where he was. To get to the bottom of it, the public relations people had called Mike. But following that, they hadn’t gotten in touch with Doreen.
At the conference the next day, Andy, wearing his ridiculous wig, ascended the podium as Benedict Waterman, undersecretary of policy implementation for the Department of Energy. Doreen, though suspicious, did not intervene.
“On behalf of the Department of Energy, I am very excited to announce that we are today beginning a process that will convert the United States energy grid into one that’s powered entirely by renewable sources—and we’re going to do it in only slightly more time than it took to win WWII,” Andy announced. The joint DOE/DOD plan, he said, would be called AmeriCAN, the American Renewable Clean-Energy Network, and would involve dismantling the fossil fuel companies, and putting ownership of the new, clean power facilities in the hands of communities.
The audience repeatedly interrupted his speech—with applause.
Andy explained how converting to renewable energy would create millions of jobs, eventually save half a trillion dollars per year on healthcare costs, result in lower energy costs and greater price stability, and—bonus!—give our civilization a chance of surviving well into the future. More applause.
Andy also noted another reason, perhaps more important from the DOE’s point of view, for why AmeriCAN was needed. He pointed to a slide showing protesters blocking the Keystone XL pipeline. “A revolutionary energy program today is easier than a real revolution tomorrow,” Andy intoned—and received yet another round of applause.
Finally it was time for “Bana Slowhorse”— actually Gitz Crazyboy, the Canadian Tar Sands activist—to take the stage on behalf of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Gitz, who stands about 6-foot-2, was dressed like a “Hollywood Indian,” with a huge black “Billy Jack” hat. He told the audience he was a member of the Wannabe Tribe, in a native joke from the 1970s by Oneida comic Charlie Hill. No one got it.
Gitz described how AmeriCAN would at long last put an end to the disease of fossil fuels, imposed like smallpox on his people—and, of course, on the whole world. His disturbing, moving speech combined fabricated pan-Indian mythology with heartwarming but equally bogus anecdotes—but the core message was completely sincere: A revolutionary energy program was truly the way to ensure that our generation would be remembered not as the one that watched the world swirl counterclockwise down the toilet, but as the one that finally put an end to the unlimited greed at the root of the Indian genocide and, now, planetary destruction.
Finally, Gitz introduced our secret weapon: Ojibwe comedian Tito Ybarra, sporting a suit, a big purple headband and a necklace of oversized turquoise beads, and holding a hand drum. Gitz introduced Tito as Four Feathers, a great chief whose feathers represented his functions in Wannabe society: drum chief, fire chief, water chief and midwife. (Yes, midwife.)
Gitz asked everyone to rise and form a circle. He showed them how to link arms the “traditional” Indian way: If you’re standing next to a man, grab on his belt loops, ready to tug it up tight in case he begins to stray from the path.
And then, as Tito began singing his strange song, the defense contractors, law enforcement officials, retired generals and admirals, and even a former Navy Seal and aspiring Republican Congressman Larry Wilske danced together in a huge circle, some of them sporting special headbands with “Native Headband” emblazoned across them, and adorned with a little plastic windmill. They danced enthusiastically, for renewable energy and revolution.
Afterward, two dozen Homeland Security Congress attendees gave their business cards to Andy, Mike and Gitz, and told them about the emotion they’d felt, and how excited they were to be part of this great historic moment.
Perhaps we shouldn’t have been so surprised that, given the option, even those we consider opponents would join in on an evidently sane plan to save the future. After all, it’s not security or defense contractors who are blocking enlightened climate policy. Purely out of security concerns, the military has actually been converting its own bases to renewable energy, so that they can stand alone if the whole grid goes down. The Pentagon has even published studies about climate change and its dire security implications, and has lately become somewhat vocal about the inevitable violence that will come if we fail to stabilize the climate. Maybe that’s why the GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill that blocks the DOD from even talking about climate change.
The lesson we take away is that only a tiny handful of people stand on the other side: namely, the fossil fuel companies, their lobbyists and their cronies in Congress.
This doesn’t make the fight any easier. It doesn’t mean we can achieve sane policy without revolution; after all, fossil fuel companies are some of the richest companies in human history. But it does mean that the revolution is certain to succeed, since at least 99.9 percent of us are arrayed on this side of the struggle.
Link to original article from In These Times
Drafted by a suffragette in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment has been stirring up controversy ever since. Many opponents considered it dead when a 10-year ratification push failed in 1982, yet its backers on Capitol Hill, in the Illinois statehouse and elsewhere are making clear this summer that the fight is far from over.
Last week, State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) bulldozed the measure, Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 75, through the upper chamber 39-11-06, a vote that included two Republicans - Kirk Dillard and Minority Leader Christine Radogno.
SPRINGFIELD-Senate Democrats plan to make an end-of-session push this week to “rectify an historical wrong” -- and perhaps give women a strong reason to go to the polls this fall -- by putting Illinois on record in support of an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Each step I take brings me closer to fulfilling my promise to help pass the Equal Rights Amendment. It’s a promise I made a decade ago to my late mother-in-law, the Rev. Katrina Swanson. (Katrina was one of the “Philadelphia Eleven,” the first group of women to be ordained as priests in these modern times in the U.S., after the Anglican Church of China.) A promise made by my husband and me to her in her last year of life. A promise, indeed a vow, and now a dream moving to reality we will resurrect and see enacted the Equal Rights Amendment.
Congresswomen Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo/Redwood City) issued the following statement today after offering a joint resolution to remove the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA was introduced into every Congress between 1923 and 1972, when it finally passed and was sent to the states for ratification upon three/fourths approval. Congresswoman Speier’s joint resolution has 109 original co-sponsors.
State Sen. Nina Turner said Saturday that she supports efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment but noted that more work is ahead in reaching equality. The Cleveland-based Democrat was one of several political candidates in attendance during an event hosted by the Progressive Democrats of America at the Adena Mansion & Gardens Visitors Center, where Turner gave a fiery speech to a full crowd about the need to support such a change.
A group of Progressive Democrats plans to push for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment with an event here later this month. State Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, will be the keynote speaker. Turner is the minority whip in the Ohio Senate.
The group, which also is conducting the event to defend voter rights, also will honor a local woman with an award at the event.
One of Mary Larkin's prized possessions is a beat-up, old, wooden cutting board in the shape of a mushroom, but you can't tell by looking at it that it is the product of a revolution.
It was made by Larkin's daughter Debbie, who was one of the first girls to take shop in Parkland schools after the district relented in the mid-1970s to allow them to forgo home economics and do woodworking instead.
Today SJ 78, a bill to ratify the stalled Equal Rights Amendment, was placed on the docket of the Elections subcommittee in the Virginia House. Could this signal GOP support for Constitutional pay equity? Even in the 21st century corporations continue to pay women less because they are women. Last week we learned that General Motors offered their first female CEO a salary 50% less than her male predecessors (the usual female pay discount is only 8%).
Rep. Victoria Steele’s (D-9) bill to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (HCR2016) was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee late last week. (You’ll remember that mid-week, I reported it was languishing on the desk of House Speaker Andy Tobin.)
There is an ideological perfect storm brewing in the Arizona Legislature. A memorandum supporting extension of the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has been assigned to a committee where five out of seven members have pledged to protect and fight for the rights of fetuses over the rights of women.
What I know about sports, I learned watching movies, but what I know about fair play and equality, I learned watching my parents. Although movies Based on a true story, have evolved closer to reality since William Bendix played Babe Ruth, the brain damage of inequality requires more than A Hail Mary Pass at equal economic opportunity and Justice for All to tackle an Equal Rights Amendment fumbled by a deadline for ratification.
In November 2014, Americans will be heading to the polls to vote in the midterm elections.
Women will be voting.
If Alice Paul had not been alive to fight for that right, women still might not have the opportunity to make their voices heard in the United States of America.
January 11, 1885 was the day this great American woman was born and it is on this day that everyone should take a moment to recognize and celebrate her brave and progressive life.
People are out collecting signatures to get the Oregon’s Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) for women on the November 2014 ballot. This could mean a change to the state constitution to include language that specifically protects women. Oregon’s ERA for women has been out there several times before now, most recently before the legislative session in 2013, but it didn't pass.
Congratulations Rhode Island! Rhode Island is the first state to have 100% of their Federal delegation supporting our legislation. A special thanks to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Jack Reed, Rep. David Cicilline and Rep. James Langevin. We appreciate your support.
Just a few weeks before his death, on October 11, 1963, President Kennedy received the final report of the President's Commission on the Status of Women. A direct line runs between the work of this commission and the establishment of the National Organization for Women.
If an Equal Rights Amendment were to pass, women would have the written support of the Constitution. Instead of women having to prove that they were being discriminated against, violators of the amendment would face a harsher reality, having to prove their innocence.
The benefits of ratifying the amendment are fairly simple. By passing the Equal Rights Amendment, the government would not only open doors of opportunity for women in the country, but also open them all around the world.
UPDATE: Linda Sanchez and Louise Roybal-Allard are now cosponsors of HJ Res 43. As Progressives we should all be outraged that of the 15 members of the Progressive Caucus from California, there are 5 (3) who have not co-sponsored Representative Rob Andrews legislation, HJ Res 43, removing the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Unacceptable. They are well aware of the legislation and we must alert them to this fact.
Targeting women’s right to vote may be the undoing of extreme governance and an opportunity to take care of constitutionally unfinished business for women – an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The newly declared war on the right of women in NC to vote looks to be the match to the fuse in the renewed push for passing an ERA.
A Major Victory for ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) advocates happened today as Senator Elizabeth Warren becomes the 32nd co-sponsor on Senator Ben Cardin’s bi-partisan bill, SJRES15 to remove the deadline to ratify the ERA.
In the spirit of Moral Mondays the Onslow County Democratic Party announced that this Monday’s demonstration on October 28th will focus on pushing back against the wave of legislation negatively impacting women’s rights to include the targeting of their voting rights. Demonstrators are civilly rallying from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm outside the Jacksonville City Hall at 815 New Bridge Street to support the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) checking state laws that are eroding women’s rights.
“Seems like old times,” was former ODP chair, David Leland’s comment when we exchanged greetings at the Statehouse, October 2nd. Indeed it did. About 1000 enthusiastic women and men showed up for a rally entitled, “We Won’t Go Back: Stand Strong with Ohio’s Women!”
Women earn less than men. Compared to white men, Latinas earn 59 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, black women earn 68 cents on the dollar, white women earn 81 cents on the dollar, and Asian women earn 88 cents on the dollar
The new push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) continues to grow as word spreads about the effort to get the Obama Administration to take a stand on the issue of equal rights for women. The ERA 2013 Action Campaign and its partner, ERA NOW, seek to gather 25,000 signatures on an official White House petition to trigger an official response from the Obama Administration, now needs only 4600 signatures by February 9th.
On Friday, September 12th more than 150 activists will go to DC and Demand that their Senators and Representatives support removing the ratification deadline from the ERA (SJ Res 15 and HJ Res 113)
MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track
Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority
MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership
CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab
Enter your zip+4 and find your elected officials. This link provides name, address and phone number
Click on your state in the list to find out if your Senators and Representative are cosponsors of the Equal Rights Amendment. Then call and either Thank Them or ask them to support the legislation.
Sample scripts are below.
Thank You ScriptI am a voter in your district and the Equal Rights Amendment is very important to me and all my friends. Thank you for supporting equal rights.
Request SupportI am a voter in your district and the Equal Rights Amendment is very important to me and all my friends. Equality is a human rights issue. The Equal Rights Amendment has been stalled and we believe removing the ratification deadline will most the process forward. Please cosponsor SJ Res 15 (for Senators) HJ Res 43 (for your Representative)
We need to add the Equal Rights Amendment to the National conversation. Use our tool to send a letter to the editor of your local paper.
If your Senator(s) and/or Representative is not currently a supporter, they may not be aware that the legislation exists. Nothing sends a stronger message to a Congressional member than a personal visit to a district office by a voter with a written request for support. Phone calls and emails are incredibly important but nothing gets attention like a personal visit. Our Educate Congress page has information and a sample letter. Print the letter, sign it, deliver it.
There is no faster way to send a message to your Congress members than using our Email Advocacy Tool.
VA State Legislature
Marena Groll Moral Monday - Fayetteville
January 15th Progressive Round Table