It’s only Wednesday but we feel quite confident calling it early: Doug Hughes is the recipient of Perry Street Palace’s highly coveted Major Award® for Protestor Pilot of the Week:
On Wednesday, Hughes, a 61-year-old mailman from a small town on Florida’s Gulf Coast who dearly wants campaign finance reform, flew his fragile little ultralight gyrocopter through some of the most closely protected airspace on the planet and landed it on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. He called it Project Kitty Hawk.
Project Kitty Hawk. Hahaha. Awesome.
He said he felt compelled to do what he could to halt corruption in the nation’s capital. He attached a big U.S. Postal Service insignia to the aircraft fuselage, loaded it onto a trailer last Friday, and drove north. He would not go postal, but rather airborne, to deliver 535 letters to members of Congress urging them to tighten the rules on money in political campaigns.
Hughes, who was spurred to political activism by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision striking down limits on campaign donations by corporations and unions, wrote on his blog that he hoped his “special delivery” stunt would “change the narrative” and bring voters together to insist on “honest government. . . . Corruption in Washington, D.C. has robbed the U.S. citizens of the representative government that is our birthright.”
The letters Hughes was carrying said he was “declaring a voter’s rebellion.”
OMFG ♥ this guy.
While Loyal Readers™ may recall a righteous rant or two on the surreal horror show we all now live in known as the land of Citizens United, I offer this as a refresher:
[The] shitweasel majority on the high court overturned a century of precedent and decades of campaign finance reform laws, essentially holding that corporations = people, and corporate cash = protected speech under the First Amendment. These twin delusions are massive affronts to democracy, logic and reality, so easily debunked even a young child could do it…
‘Cause here’s the thing: corporations are not people.
CORPORATIONS. ARE. NOT. PEOPLE.
For one thing, unlike people, they can potentially live forever. That makes them immortal. You know, like vampires. Or possibly tardigrades. But definitely not like people…unlike people, corporations cannot be put in prison for the crimes they commit:
[h/t Sally Strange via Cory Booker]
So these “people” are immortals who are never subject to the same rules of law and justice as everyone else. Is any of this starting to sound to you like a zombie movie yet?
With Citizens United, the right-wing douches on the Supreme Court were only getting started. And in truth, America’s Owners hardly needed the Supreme Court’s imprimatur: neither the banksters nor the defense industry have ever been in any real danger of losing control of the US treasury or foreign policy, at least not in my lifetime. Now, though, in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, not only are corporations people, they can actually be religious people, they can be laughably wrong and willfully ignorant religious people, they can enforce their laughably wrong and willfully ignorant religious views on their employees, and they can ignore laws they don’t like. Unlike, say, actual fucking people. (And no, the Lizard People like Dick Cheney and his ilk do not count—the fact that these creatures have not been dragged before a tribunal at the Hague and locked up in jail forever only further illustrates my point about actual fucking people.)
Therefore, we hereby bestow upon Doug Hughes the Perry Street Palace Major Award® for Protestor Pilot of the Week:
We sincerely hope that Mr. Hughes succeeds in sparking his voters rebellion. Indeed, we applaud and support any person who risks life, limb and certain arrest in nonviolent protest of gross injustice, evil and/or epic ratfuckery. (After landing at Capitol Hill, Hughes just sat in his open cockpit for a minute until Capitol Police surrounded him; he was arrested without incident). But we have exactly zero optimism that this grand gesture is anything but futile. When future generations of the United States (if indeed there are future generations of anything remotely resembling the United States) look back on the travesty that is government in our age and wonder what the fuck we were doing instead of marching around DC with pitchforks*, they will find in the pages of The Washington Post the heroic story of one Doug Hughes, and come to realize #notallcitizens.
Speaking of The Washington Post, it should surprise no one that the critical context and enormous implications of Mr. Hughes’ spectacular stunt are barely touched upon, let alone critically analyzed and professionally mocked. The Washington Post is the very definition of “establishment media,” and thus we can expect never to see anything printed in its pages beyond the stifling, narrow range of permissible discourse that so well serves the conservative, corporatist and corrupt status quo.
Of course, the failed Fourth Estate is one reason why the Palace has the Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ it does. From the same article:
Air defense systems did not detect the copter as it entered restricted airspace above Washington, according to a North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman. No one tried to stop the gyrocopter, which sounds like a lawnmower and looks like a flying bridge chair.
Air Force Maj. Jamie Humphries, a NORAD spokesman, said the authorities are investigating why NORAD was not made aware of the gyrocopter until after it had landed on the Capitol grounds.
“We are trying to determine the why, but I can say we did not scramble assets,” he said.
Jeezus Haploid Christ. If you would be so kind to indulge me, please allow me to call your attention to two very relevant facts.
Fact 1: The United States spends more on defense than the next eight countries combined.
Apparently $640 billion is simply not enough to stop a d00d with a lawnmower chair strapped to his ass from landing on the Capitol lawn. I mean come on, this shit mocks itself, people! Defense: yer dooin it rong.
Of course in Federal Government Speak, “defense” does not actually mean, you know, defense; it means something else entirely, an inconvenient fact made even more painfully obvious by this very story. What is truly surprising is that as of this writing The Washington Post has yet to print an op-ed by someone arguing that this latest mailman gyrocopter incident only proves the urgent need to triple the “defense” budget.
Fact 2: Doug Hughes, Winner of Perry Street Palace’s highly coveted Major Award® for Protestor Pilot of the Week, is Surveillance State FAIL No. 6,427,336. (Or something close to that number—frankly it’s hard to keep count.)
You see, Mr. Hughes announced his exact plans a year ago on his blog, then in his hometown newspaper, and in a video posted online by The Tampa Bay Times.
Doug Hughes, being awesome.
Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said that in October 2013, “a concerned citizen” told the agency about someone who wanted “to land a single manned aircraft on the grounds of the United States Capitol or the White House.” Leary said Secret Service agents in Florida interviewed Hughes the next day and conducted “a complete and thorough investigation.”
Then about a year ago:
after Doug Hughes published his plan on his Web site, a Secret Service agent in Florida questioned both Hughes and a friend of his, Mike Shanahan, the Times reported. Hughes told the agent that he did own a gyrocopter, which he kept at a small airport in Wauchula, Fla., and that he had been planning a dramatic gesture to focus attention on campaign finance reform.
The Times said the same agent visited Hughes’s workplace, the post office in Riverview, Fla., a couple of days later and asked co-workers about him. But there was no further contact from the Secret Service, Hughes told the newspaper.
See, this is what we Super Savvy Media Types® call “burying the lede.”
The United States has long been assembling a vast and unaccountable domestic surveillance apparatus; one that, despite the
justifications and claims lies to the contrary by our highest government officials, has never prevented a single terrorist attack. Unlike The Washington Post, we have called attention to this inconvenient (and highly fucking relevant) fact at every opportunity. For example:
What we do know is that terrorist attacks have indeed been thwarted—by ordinary citizens. Despite NSA’s massive surveillance operations, Richard Reid, the would-be “Shoe Bomber” managed to get a bomb on board an American Airlines flight to Miami. When he tried to set it off, passengers smelled smoke, subdued him and bound him up. Hello? NSA? Hello?
Then, with their amazing and vast surveillance powers and a heads up from CIA, US intelligence officials actually let suspected al-Qaeda collaborator Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab board a flight to the US. They were planning to let him into the states, too: they knew he was coming, but refused to let his visa be revoked. Unfortunately, he had a bomb in his underwear on the flight. Fortunately, passengers subdued him, too. Thanks, NSA.
Then there was Faisal Shahzad, the would-be “Times Square Bomber.” A t-shirt vendor noticed smoke coming out of an awkwardly parked SUV and alerted a mounted police officer, who called for assistance. The area was safely cleared and the bomb was defused. Law enforcement investigated over the next few days and narrowed in on Shahzad as the prime suspect. They put his name on the No Fly List (which even a known al-Qaeda collaborator wasn’t put on). Still, Shahzad was nonetheless able to buy a ticket to Dubai with cash at JFK airport, and board the plane. The flight was a few minutes from takeoff before the authorities caught up with him. The plane returned to the gate and he was arrested without incident.
T-shirt vendor: 1. NSA surveillance: 0.
For a more recent and far more devastating example, consider the Boston Marathon Bombers. The U.S. government was tipped off twice [!] about Tamerlan Tsarnaev by the Russian Federal Security Bureau. He had been on a terrorist watch list for eighteen months [!!!] before he and his brother set off bombs that killed three people and injured 264 others at the scene. Way to go, NSA. Really.
All of which is to say that in at least these four instances, the NSA’s invasive surveillance did not, in fact, Keep Us Safe™.
Again, the only thing surprising here is that as of this writing The Washington Post has yet to print an op-ed arguing that this latest mailman gyrocopter incident proves the urgent need to triple the surveillance budget, too.
So hearty congratulations to Doug Hughes, Citizens United protestor, pilot and patriot, who simultaneously protested the twin grotesqueries of US “defense” policy and its enormous, worse-than-useless surveillance state, however unwittingly.
Today we drink to you, sir. Although frankly we were going to drink anyway. See: ALL OF THE ABOVE.
*The answer to the question of what the fuck we were doing instead of marching around DC with pitchforks is no doubt complex, but I’m pretty sure a sizable part of it is “watching men’s sporting competitions.”