May 18, 2007

The American Dream Book Tour & Protest Across the USA - Dispatch 21

... by Mike Palacek

SHELDON, IOWA -- You want to go where everybody knows your name.

Well. I was in Boston last week. I made my way through traffic, found a parking spot, found the Lucy Parsons Center, on Columbus Avenue. Then I went out walking around for about seven hours. Part of the time I just sat on a bench at a park, watched the people and the pigeons.

And then I walked over to Lucy Parsons, came up to the front desk, tired, sweating, lugging my books and stuff.

"I'm Mike.

"Mike ... Palecek.

"I'm supposed to speak tonight."

"Oh, was that tonight?"

It's kind of been like that on this book tour.

In Brattleboro, Vermont there were naked people outside the bookstore.

But nobody inside at my reading.

This isn't Hull, Iowa. I work in Hull, at a group home. It's very conservative. It's what drove me to write "The American Dream," how these people live during this time of war.

I don't think the naked people were Dutch Reformed. Maybe they just weren't big readers.

And so now I'm back home in Iowa writing this last column from my daughter's computer. Mine crashed somewhere in Connecticut.

I started to plan this tour back in October. Then I left home in March. Now I'm back home in May.

It's been like that.

I thought that if I got out there and bit the bullet, spoke in front of crowds, I could get people to notice the books I have written.

There must be another way. Maybe I just haven't found it. Maybe it's right there in front of me, but not clearly marked, or marked at all, or hidden behind a FREAKING LILAC BUSH, like the sign for the road out of Brockton, Massachusetts.

I did meet great people. I feel bad, for myself, that I won't be able to meet the ones on the rest of the trip.

But the trip was a loser. There just is no way to deny that.

A good attitude only gets you as far as Boston.

Thank you to the folks in Lawrence, Kansas; Don Kaufman in Newton, Kansas; Laura Loughran in Omaha for calling out the relatives; Kent Blaser at Wayne State College; Jill at Hill Avenue Book Store; Holly Hart and the Iowa City Greens; the Southeast Minnesota Peacemakers in Rochester; Mike Stanek in Chicago; the Duluth Catholic Worker; Rainbow Books; Anthony Rayson and the Unitarian Church of Park Forest, Illinois; the 303 Collective in Saginaw; the Drinking Liberally groups in Oakland County Michigan and Kansas City and Cleveland; David Musella at the Center for Inquiry in Buffalo; and all those folks who tried to make it work in lots of other places.

I also want to thank Tony at Cold Type Magazine for putting together such a cool collection of my columns, and also to all the other websites that published them.

I'm not really sure what the answer is.

It could be that people don't read novels.

But who really knows about that. It could be that they just don't read mine, or that readings are just too boring. I have never been to a reading, other than my own. It does sound like maybe the most boring thing you can think of, if someone asked you to think of five boring things, or ten, and it was against the rules to make the Democratic Party all ten.

The brown 1990 Honda was great. Nine thousand, eight hundred seventy-six miles. No problem. I saw other brown Hondas on the road and all had the same rust in the rear wheel wells. Do-do, do-do, do-do.


I think the answer is don't quit.


I'm writing another novel.

This one is going to bring George W. Bush to his knees. I guarantee it.

Maybe I'll take it on the road, finish out the rest of the tour. I'm looking for local organizers. Get your name in now.

Just fyi, this [below] is the text of my book tour talk. Maybe a virtual tour is
the answer.

Get naked, join the Dutch Reformed Church, and read.


Hello. Thank you.

Two questions I often get asked about my writing are who are you, and why are
you doing this?

Each time I tell my wife, let me try to explain.

The American Dream. It's an anti-war novel.

It's also about the lies we live on, like junk food.

It's propaganda, like in the USSR. We thought it couldn't happen here. Maybe it's not happening in exactly the same way, but it is happening here.

We have fake history, fake news, which leads to brainwashing that results in our being fascinated by celebrity, by money, by power, by sports, by American Idol, by violence, by war.

We are not fascinated by searching for truth, real religion, honest government --
with trying to find a way for poor people to enter our country and make a life for
their children.

Michael M. is the focal character in my book.

He wants nothing more than to get on "The Home Helper Show" to get his little house fixed up and make his wife and children happy -- while the world burns.

By accident, M rams his moped into the war memorial in Homeland's city park, and breaks World War II.

He is taken away in a helicopter to the local concentration camp, branded a terrorist, and dubbed The Big Evil One.

On this tour across the country, I am asking us to shake ourselves awake from the American Dream, because the world desperately needs us right now.

I am here to promote my books.

I am also here to fight the Bush government, to ask that the Bush government's involvement in 9-11 be investigated, that George W. Bush be impeached, and that George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

[Read pg. 16]

"There are things we don't or can't understand. A reasonable man, a healthy man ... a sane man ... when he encounters the inexplicable ... forgets about
-- Maurice Minnifield, Northern Exposure

I think we have a history of being lied to by our government and I can't make myself forget about it.

The Northwoods Plan was put forth by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to President Kennedy, a plan in wich Americans would be killed by the United States military, making it look as though it was done by Cuba, as a pretext for the invasion of Cuba.

This is William Pepper, author and attorney for the King family.

"When you see these things there is nothing you should put past the capability of government to do. Whatever it has to do to maintain power, it does. We were so naive back in the old days. We had to learn, I'm afraid, the hard way."

During the Bush years we have received:

  • Lies about WMD
  • Fallujah - what types of weapons were used there? Do we know?
  • War profiteering.
  • Slaughter of children.
  • Secret prisons
  • The approval - the approval - of torture.
  • The suspension of habeas corpus.

To take out a key political opponent would be small potatoes for these guys.

They do it in other countries, why not here?

Surely not because they are the good guys.

Only because they cannot get away with it. What they can get away with, they will do.

At a meeting of war veterans in Wilmar, Minnesota, days before his death, Senator Paul Wellstone told attendees that vice-president Dick Cheney had told him, "If you vote against the war in Iraq, the Bush administration will do whatever is necessary to get you. There will be severe ramifications for you and the state of Minnesota."

Welcome to America. Let me try to explain.

The American Dream. It's time to wake up.

You are not sleeping. It is daytime. You look out your window: robins, squirrels,
wiener dog poop. Fair to partly cloudy. It's all a fairy tale.

You are a character in someone else's made-up book.

In the dedication to The American Dream I talk about my parents, Milosh and Isabel. Dad was first generation Czech. Isabel was second generation Irish/Norwegian. They were true believers in the American Dream, working hard. They settled in Norfolk, Nebraska, where dad got a job as an engineer for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad.

As far as I know, nobody in Norfolk, Nebraska in 1963 or 1968 had a clue about the truth regarding the assassinations that were happening.

Johnny Carson didn't tell us, didn't mention it, everything was cool. Lee Harvey Oswald did it. Sirhan Sirhan did it. James Earl Ray did it. If they say it
on TV, it must be true.

How did we come to this?

We have fake history.

Our junior high and high school history books should be in italics -- handed
out by the teacher on the first day with a wink -- Remember The Maine, Pearl
Harbor, Gulf of Tonkin, Waco, Oklahoma City bombing, moon landings, stolen elections.

And even so ... to talk about conspiracy, or government lying, in the United States ... it's like being a person who has spent the day alone upstairs writing
poetry, and he steps out onto the street corner to hand those poems out to passersby.

Because we accepted the Warren Commission we got the "911, What Controlled Demolition Commission," and our children will get the "XYZ Non-investigation By Rich People Covering Up For Other Rich People."

And with Wellstone ... well, reporters never ask the questions you want them to ask. You say, c'mon, c'mon, ask it. They do not. And, Waco, well there was a trial. But it was not the FBI on trial. It was the Branch Davidians, and it was
their children who were burned alive.

Once upon a time, I decided to ask.

When we bought our paper in Minnesota in the early '90s I thought as a publisher I had a new inside track to the truth. I wrote to Ted Kennedy asking him about the murders of his brothers. I guess I thought I was going to crack the case. I received a letter from Kennedy's office saying they did not wish to discuss the matter.

Then I wrote to a fellow Nebraska, from my own hometown. Somebody I had watched on TV with my parents. I thought, I'll bet Johnny knows what's going on. I'll ask him.

[Read Carson letter]

March 2, 2001

Johnny Carson
c/o Carson Productions Group
3110 Main St.
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Mr. Carson:


I am originally from Norfolk, Nebraska, graduated from NHS in 1973.

Recently I had a chance to listen to the tape of your interview with attorney Jim Garrison. I don't recall watching the live interview, but very well could have, as watching your show before bed was our regular routine, as it was for many others.

As a fellow Norfolkan, I am curious as to why you treated Garrison as you did. I probably will not get the chance to contact you twice, so I will be frank right away. You sounded as if you were acting as a spokesman for someone else. Were you protecting the real killers of Kennedy?

Of course, you were. What else can I say, but that it is obvious now with almost forty years of perspective. The Warren Commission was a joke and Garrison was on to something. Something frightening to be sure. But why did you have so much allegiance to the plotters and none to your dead president? Because he could not pay you from the grave?

Is it as simple as that?

Thanks in part to you we have been forced to live in Disneyland since 1963, where everything is unreal, everything entertainment and illusion.

Please tell me, as I will never know myself. Is wealth and power worth the sublimation of the truth?

Thank you for your time.

Mike Palecek
702 6th Ave.
Sheldon, Iowa 51201

[Read Carson response]

March 9. 2001

Dear Mr. Palecek:

I'm sending you a copy of a letter I have recently received to make you aware that some ignorant asshole is sending out letters over your signature.

You should look into this.


Johnny Carson


George H. W. Bush is one of the few people who says he does not know where he was on Nov. 22, 1963. He recently spoke at Gerald Ford's funeral.

He said: "After a deluded gunman assassinated President Kennedy, our nation turned to Gerald Ford and a select handful of others to make sense of that madness, and conspiracy theorists can say what they will, but the Warren Commission report will always have the final definitive say on that matter. Why? Because Gerald Ford put his name on it and Gerald Ford's word was always good."

Of course, George Bush Sr. was lying, just as Gerald Ford was lying when he put his name on the Warren Commission report.


I believe the media is one reason we are brainwashed in this country. Another is the churches that we have.

[tell about Catholic upbringing, seminary, letter to bishop Sheehan regarding Offutt AFB, deterrence vs. gospel/my picketing of churches: The Omaha Catholic Church Supports SAC -- Why? picketing of bishop in front of congregation during his Easter Homily hunger strike in jail sanctuary - Omaha Cathedral]

[Read about church people in Homeland/TAD/page 108]


Kurt Vonnegut once said that an anti-war novel is as likely to stop wars as an anti-glacier novel is to stop glaciers.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn said: For a country to have a great writer is like having a second government. That is why no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones.

Any writer has to believe he or she is doing great things in order to have a chance to do great things. You have to employ a willing suspension of disbelief, just in order to keep going -- to have a chance to write that anti-war novel that will stop glaciers.

You also have to believe in yourself to stand in front of the national guard tank,
to hold a sign on the street corner as the long, black limousines with the tiny American flags go by, to carry a peace flag in the Fourth of July parade, or to sit in the congressman's office and refuse to leave until he understands that killing children for a profit is wrong.

You have to believe in yourself to dream big in America.

Because we are really up against it these days in the land of the free and the brave.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance -- somebody said that.

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

We think the country runs on cruise control, the heavy lifting having been done earlier in the morning by those who gave us the eight-hour day, the minimum wage, 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.

On this tour I'm trying to do my part. Before leaving home I dropped a letter in the mailbox.

[Read Tax Protest Letter]

March 27, 2001

Internal Revenue Service
Kansas City, MO


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 payfor more war and killing.

As a Christian, I cannot go along with this.

I must protest.


Mike Palecek


I believe 9-11 was an inside job. They got the new Pearl Harbor they wanted to invade Iraq and take the oil.

The troops are not protecting us. That is someone's spin on the day's news, somebody's advertising slogan, someone else's sermon.

The troops serve the empire.

Killing and war and using money for killing is contrary to God's law.

This is not a democracy. It is something other, based on wealth and power and prestige and celebrity. Those in power are not really concerned with the truth. They are really concerned with remaining in power and anything they do is based upon that.

The poor are ridiculed, persecuted, hunted down in America. The chase sounded by barking pigs on the radio.

That is contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

American is not inherently benign.

They don't say that in most American high schools and colleges.

[Read/TAD/pg 58]

This last passage is John. He is an ex-protester, has been to prison. John lives next to the city park and the war memorial. The town people call him "John the Baptist" because they have caught him peeing in the war memorial flowers after dark. John looks out at life through his basement window. He likes to call that being "underground."


Most Americans are ignorant of their own history.

I say this with profound expertise. I was perhaps the most ignorant of all. I am only now beginning to learn. I have definitely served my time as poster boy for "Stupid." In the graduating class of 1973 at Norfolk High School I was 283 out of 289.

The Vietnam War ended just before I was supposed to sign up for the draft. don't remember one conversation with my high school buddies about the war. I would have signed up and gone, mabye died, maybe killed. I didn't know any better, my own fault. But also the fault of my parents, teachers, coaches, priests. Maybe they didn't know any better, either.

I think they did.

If by some fat chance you do find out the truth, the next question hangs in the air.

What the hell are you going to do now?

So what do we do?

We don't ask questions. We assume Rather, Brokaw, Jennings, Koppel, Couric are telling us the truth, acting in our best interests. They are not. They are
acting in the best interests of their own bank account, their favorite lunch spot,
their employers, their handlers.

We let the Bush government get away without investigating 9-11 until over a year later, then putting through a whitewash and calling that good enough. And so we may be about to attack Iran, in the service of rich men and women seeking to become richer -- not in the service of single mothers working three jobs and taking their kids to daycare at five a.m., or in the service of desperate young people seeking out the military for some perverted kind of hope in life.

We need to ask questions.

Hold signs, sit in Congressional offices, pound on missile silos, refuse to pay taxes ... write, or it will never stop.

They did not stop the war in Vietnam because it was the right thing to do -- only
because they were forced to by good, hard-working people ... who believed in themselves ... who gave themselves a chance to succeed by walking out the front door, down to the corner, handing out their poems, holding up their sign.

Thank you.

I appreciate it.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Guest Op-ed submissions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this website. Writers are solely responsible for content.

Posted by PV Guest at May 18, 2007 11:20 AM | Guest Writings | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

i think you're right. don't quit. i've been having a disappointing time with the live music performances, myself. the fact is, there's a lot of books out there, there's a lot of music out there. somehow we have to contact our niche market and then shake them like a terrier shakes a rat. sorry, i didn't mean that to sound like that. we have to contact our niche market and then sweet talk them like an ice cream salesman. or something. you getting any sales off of us freeloaders on the internets?

Posted by: r@d@r at May 18, 2007 02:32 PM

PS -

i wish i had been at one of your tour stops to hear you deliver this. it's front-to-back genius. i don't 100% agree with absolutely everything you say, but the way in which you say it, especially the infinite importance of asking questions and demanding answers, is inspiring. please don't stop doing what you do.

Posted by: r@d@r at May 18, 2007 02:42 PM