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Review :: Activism : Elections & Legislation

Operation American Freedom

Mark Crispin Miller, author of The Bush Dyslexicon brings his one man show, Operation American Freedom to Baltimore.
Operation American Freedom, by Mark Crispin Miller
Creative Alliance/The Patterson Theatre
Sept 12-13

This evening I am reading a transcript of Tim Russert and Dick Cheney on Meet the Press (broadcast Sept 14, ) and one thing is becoming immediately clear to me: I am reading what Cheney is saying very carefully (more on that later); much more carefully than I normally would when reading the stuff that comes out of Cheney's weirdly twisted mouth. That I am paying this attention is the result of one thing: I have just seen Mark Crispin Miller's one man show, Operation American Freedom. It was then that I knew just what kind of effect Miller's critique of Bush, the GOP, and the mainstream media had upon me. His word-by-word analysis of just some of what George W. Bush et al. have said and continue to say has now made its way into how I am reading these things. Now that is a powerful effect. One from which we all would benefit should it make its way into mainstream American conscience.

Let's just back up a bit and lay out the details of this entertaining evening. Miller, a former faculty member of Johns Hopkins University and now professor of media studies at New York University, is also the author of The Bush Dyslexicon, a book which documents and analyzes, in scathing detail, the jaw-dropping legacy of Bush the Younger. The show, Operation American Freedom,, which is a somewhat theatrical presentation of just such material, made a brief appearance at the Patterson Theatre, the new centre for the Creative Alliance, on the Friday and Saturday evenings of September 12th and 13th (see this buzzflash interview for further discussion about the show, This, after a mostly sold-out five month run at New York's Cherry Lane Theatre. The show has been variously described as "a brilliant mix of stand-up comedy, critical analysis and independent news reporting", "provocative, funny, and deeply disturbing," while the Village Voice calls Miller a "charismatic indie news guerrilla." Indeed, he and the show are these things, and the audience in attendance were there and ready to inhale the anti-Bush vibe like so much political patchouli.

Though produced (Mark Posnock, Anotonio Soddu) and directed (Gregory Kellor), the show was quite elemental: Miller talking at a lectern with the Seal of the President of the United States on it like we're in the White House press room (I asked, "can he do that?") In the capable hands of Miller, whose polish is obvious, it becomes a quite entertaining discourse on Bush, The GOP, the mass media, right wing yowlers (e.g. Coulter, Limbaugh, etc.) and an empassioned perspective on the state of democracy and the citizenry in America and how it/we are desperately in need of repair. His conviction is obvious when he entreats the audience to "pick a fight. Pick a good fight. And fight to win."

Now, as indicated earlier, the demographic of the audience was such that Miller was not making any new friends and allies. Everyone there was already willing and eager to drink up the heady nectar of excoriation. There was likely nary a Republican in the building that evening and that's a shame, because ultimately, the people at the show already know what they are coming to hear. Now, this is not an indictment of the show itself, though some argued that it would have been unlikely to have swayed anyone who is a Bush supporter. That may be a true, though it is not necessarily the purpose of what is ultimately entertainment with a message: you must pay attention to what is being said by these people and understand the deeper significance. Given the amount of time and energy Miller devotes to examing his subjects, it is plausible that Miller understands Bush better than Bush does.

As I said at the top, I am reading the Cheney/Russert transcript from Meet the Press. I can easily imagine Miller having this piece as grist for the mill:

MR. RUSSERT: The Washington Post asked the American people about Saddam Hussein, and this is what they said: 69 percent said he was involved in the September 11 attacks. Are you surprised by that?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I think it’s not surprising that people make that connection.
MR. RUSSERT: But is there a connection?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: We don’t know…We know, for example, in connection with the original World Trade Center bombing in ’93 that one of the bombers was Iraqi, returned to Iraq
MR. RUSSERT: We could establish a direct link between the hijackers of September 11 and Saudi Arabia.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: We know that many of the attackers were Saudi. There was also an Egyptian in the bunch. It doesn’t mean those governments had anything to do with that attack

Logically, this is just bizarre:
(a) one of the WTC'93 bombers was Iraqi, therefore Iraq is involved in terrorist activities.
(b) Most of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudi but we cannot conclude that the Saudi goverments were involved.

Also, Cheney claims that "We don't know", and then that "We know." Well, which is it?

The worst part is Russert just lets it slide. Here is another one:

MR. RUSSERT: Vanity Fair magazine reports that about 140 Saudis were allowed to leave the United States the day after the 11th, allowed to leave our airspace and were never investigated by the FBI and that departure was approved by high-level administration figures. Do you know anything about that?

He doesn't know about this. Is this believable? The entire airspace over the US was shutdown, a bunch of the Royal family of Saud is flown out of the US and the Vice President doesn't know anything. (For more on this bizarre exchange check out what Josh Marshall has to say,

This is just a short example of how I am reading these things now. Mark Crispin Miller would have us all looking at these guys much much more closely. It is our duty as citizens.


See also the review by Elissa Thomas in the Baltimore Chronicle

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