Topiary Garden, day and night.


Mixed media shadow box and photographs by Ross Martens – 2009


And there’s the rub.

We hate to be a bother dear, but have you made those telephone calls yet? No? Have you had a gander at this?

And if the “Armey of Darkness” isn’t enough to blow your top, how about these apples? If you watch closely at 2:04, you’ll see a positively fervent crowd, those teabaggers with their full throated patriotism on display. But what’s all this then?

We can’t get enough of producer Heidi Noonan’s deer-in-the-headlights moment. Even behind those large sunglasses, the flash of realization is unmistakable; she freezes, plays with her hair in an awkward attempt at nonchalance and…Ducks out of sight! Maybe Fox really does believe it’s own dog and pony show. And perhaps their interpretation of “objective journalism” suggests that if you vanish from the camera frame, you have rendered yourself invisible, thus negating the fact that you’ve just been caught whipping up the crowd at a “grass roots, concerned citizen’s rally” like an audience co-ordinator on the Price is Right. “That wasn’t me! I wasn’t there! You didn’t just see that! It never happened!”

This is a peek behind the curtain, a look at the method to their madness. They will do anything to make sure things stay the way they are. All you have to do is pick up the phone.

The wealth of health.

Okay, look, this health care thing? Something must be done.

This is a huge issue in and of itself, but healthcare is much more than just a political issue; how we chose to take care of ourselves, how we chose to take care of each other, speaks to who we are as a nation, who we are as citizens and what citizenship means to us. And right now, the only ones making noise are the people bringing loaded guns to town halls, screaming about death panels and health care for illegal immigrants. If you watch any coverage of these antics, including the march on D.C., it’s easy to eye-roll and be completely floored by the dearth of facts. But you cannot deny the passion; it’s misguided and ill-informed, but it’s organized and it’s making itself heard. As Bill Maher asked, “When are we going to show up?

We need real reform. We don’t need a plan that would make some sort of weak-ass coverage mandatory, enriching the very companies that are profiting off the health—or ill health—of our citizens. The people descending upon D.C. this past weekend are right about at least one thing: this is bigger than health care. What they don’t understand is that their talking-points are being fed to them by the very people whose interests lie in killing universal health care. This is about how big businesses, as Bill Moyers said, “run roughshod over the interests of ordinary people.”

Call your reps. Call them all. Not just the ones you voted for, call the ones in office that you didn’t vote for, too. They were elected to serve you. It’s your job to insist that they do. If you’re lucky enough to have a doctor, call them and ask them what they think about universal health care. The majority of doctors supported single-payer health care in 2008. Many of them still do, but since that’s off the table (ha-whaaa?),  many doctors and nurses support a public option.

As Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone and Slant has written, “It seldom happens that the public is awake and focused enough to have this kind of OK Corral confrontation with the DC oligarchy, and it has to take advantage.” And, “Progressives this week are fighting to accumulate the votes needed to stop any health care bill that doesn’t have a public option. Hopefully they can stop this PhRMA payoff as well. If you’ve got a phone, call your congressman and give him/her hell about this…”

Patients gather outside the Virginia-Kentucky Fairgrounds for their turn to enter the Remote Area Medical (RAM) Health Expedition in Wise, Va., July 24, 2009. Photo by Paul Morse for AARP Bulletin Today (Click image to read story.)

Patients gather outside the Virginia-Kentucky Fairgrounds for their turn to enter the Remote Area Medical (RAM) Health Expedition in Wise, Va., July 24, 2009. Photo by Paul Morse for AARP Bulletin Today (Click image to read story.)

Not too long ago, we spoke with a congresswoman who told us, quite frankly, that online petitions simply don’t have the impact of a personal phone call. There are some great organizations working to inform and mobilize people through the internet, but a few clicks of a mouse will not capture the attention of elected officials as much as your individual voice or a handwritten letter. There is something about having your congressman’s/woman’s phone ringing off the hook with their constituent’s concerns (and their future votes) that still has the power to move. (For how much longer is up for debate.) Maybe scores of emails are super easy to delete without reading? Perhaps government officials are leery of a form which is easily manipulated? Any dedicated lemming could fill one out a hundred times a day, and probably has. Well, we could ponder this until we’re all forced underground by an empire of evil robots bearing the Pfizer logo, but the fact remains that you, concerned citizen and (hopefully) galvanized reader of this sometimes activism-slanted page, need to pick up the phone and give your representatives what for.

There are many Astroturf organizations which send out alarmist emails on a regular basis, urging their minions to “shut down senators switch boards” with their demands. But you, informed, intelligent, polite person, with sincere concerns and hopes for a more perfect union, need to make your thoughts heard and understood. Right now. If you’re comfortable sitting, watching, and venting your frustrations with the people you know, the people who agree with you, as Howard Zinn said, you are in collaboration with the very thing you oppose. It is every person’s civic duty to speak as loud and clear as possible, to insist that your voice is integral to the health of your nation. We’ve seen plenty of civil disobedience from those who already hold the power, who pollute the water, who have broken our schools and dirtied our air; if we sit quietly by while they take away our health, we may not have enough patriotism left in us to ever raise our voices again. It could be that it’s simply time to stop being so polite. Be as sincere in your actions as you are in your concerns.