The Leno/Letterman Model for Direct Action

“Call the Federal Bureau of Investigation! Yes, it’s an emergency!” — from Invasion of the Body Snatchers


Special Note: There’s a proposal for direct action 26 paragraphs down in case you don’t have the heartbeats or stomach for the lead-in. Previously the Leno/Letterman Action, it’s now called The Plan.

For many months now, I’ve been trying to recruit activists in confidence, for the purpose of implementing a particular plan for singular direct action which encourages nationwide movement in solidarity.

Too much talkin’ ’bout Straw Men, too much burnin’ down Straw Men, and all of it takin’ much too much precious time. The incessant wringing of hands that went on Pre-W II now threatens to evolve into another four years of “Tsk, Tsk, See What They’re Doing Now.” And the ABB Defense is already morphing into We Can Win With A Woman! Forget about Hillary talk, even Cynthia McKinney’s recent victory serves as a major distraction…from our inevitable Day of Reckoning.

As Berkeley historian Jo Guldi notes, “whatever we were doing isn’t working, and the deadline is past.”

To be less opaque: You don’t change things by incessantly exposing Electoral Fraud* in lieu of forcing the game to play by other rules. “Force” is a problematic word for Democratic Intellectual Ambulance Chasers, but that’s part of what must be on the table for consideration these days. In fact, that always has been the case.

*Exactly how many “proofs” do we need that the “boofs” don’t work?

(See,,,, and

I mean what if Ann Harrison, Greg Palast, Ron Gould, and the entire staff at Institute for Public Accuracy spent a few minutes each day letting the Lord teach their fingers to make battle, and their hands to make war, as per Guldi’s article above? Or at least encouraged a friend or two…to do the same? The articles are useful, BUT….

Almost worse than anything is the likelihood that the old, tired forms of Direct Action will still not be modified to meet the needs of The Movement, will not measure up to the Powers’ Maniacal Machinations. Habit, as Beckett said, is the great deadener.

In a new article of mine titled “Rehnquist’s Tumors, Rumors of Solidarity” I recommend a litigous approach for certain issues –working within the system– but I don’t really have much faith in that sort of thing. (1) Certainly not without Direct Action backing it up.

Direct Action following New Paradigms are being screamed for by every soul on this planet who has not yet succumbed to The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In that ’56 film, citizens were caught napping as the pods did their dirty deeds. We have to look in the garden variety mirror, so we can see how we’re digging holes for the pods (and our own graves, in the process), as pencil pushers/planters for The Powers.

“Little Eichmanns,” as Ward Churchill characterizes many of us. (2)

Activists who can Sleep No More are obliged to address our nightmare dislocation without apology, without trying to hold hands with everyone across the Left Spectrum as they truly confront Business As Usual. They see there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between Osama and Obama. (3)

The nine cents worth of distinction is what the vast majority of Americans cling to (including most “progressives”) when they debate –endlessly– the dead horse of Democracy in Iraq…in lieu of detonating the particular expletives/explosive diatribes necessary to end the defoliation of, say, Colombia. Imprisoned by parameters.

The smart citizen will somehow find a way to tolerate Obama’s abominable talk about Iran, look the other way when Jay (Leno) trashes Gay Life…all the while avoiding the real work that lies ahead.

I know we have to be careful when we act like Hickey in The Iceman Cometh, destroying people’s illusions. But the personal comfort zones of the great unwashed and washed alike, their routines, and their handshake/wink to you are going to have to take a backseat to…priorities.

Forget about the Lord’s Prayer issue in the schools, we can’t salute the flag anymore…on the ballfield or in the classroom. For that’s clearly where the soldiers and the pencil pushers come from, the inhumane pods. As Robert Jensen suggests, we must say “God condemn America, please, so that the world might live.”

“Only when we have to fight to stay human do we realize how precious it is,” intones the protagonist of IOTBSnatchers. And so true it is. Nevertheless, there is less confrontation concerning the souring and scouring of America than what you get at a Jets game.

As Justin Podur clarifies, “…the American people have…lined up behind their killer leaders when they could have rejected them. That doesnít leave a lot of room for hope, other than about the key questions of how, what it will take, when they will (and whether theyíll get a chance to) change their minds.”  (4)

Here’s that chance.

The confidentiality alluded to at the outset here has always seemed crucial because of how important I deemed was the element of surprise. As in war. Because of that, even those who contacted me –bouncing off of the nationwide “feelers” I put out there– only received info on a need-to-know basis.

Most bank robberies go awry ’cause the participants sink their ship with some variation of Loose Lip. Ditto for radical ventures which Post-Modern Cointelpro can make go away…more easily than ever.

Nonviolence and legal tactics were embraced in The Plan, in part, to facilitate recruiting. But I haven’t been sufficiently successful with the underground approach. The small numbers of people (who I could trust on various levels) did not step up to the plate. Some high profile “progressives” –constantly pleading for change, ideas– ignored me completely. And continue to do so.

What a lesson…for us all.

Therefore, what follows will delineate more than what I’ve revealed to anyone to date –with the exception of a handful of activists/professors– in public.  The time has come to drop the pretense of working undercover, and (likely) sacrifice the potential efficacy of this particular proposal…in an effort to stimulate more contributions on the same order nationwide.

At this juncture –on the eve of our nuclear militarization of space, the eve of the invasion of Iran, and the now-required DNA samples from innocents arrested in California, etc.– it seems like I must shoot for the larger audience, Shoot for the Moon, as the Lovers of Hearts say…from time to time.

It’s easy enough to corral numbers for movement in superficial solidarity (or hard, as the case may be). But the bonding that’s necessary today to be effective long-term is another matter entirely. I need more core help. This shotgun approach will have to do for now.


The Plan is to have 50 people make reservations that will guarantee their being in the audience of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show (NBC) on a given date in April. My understanding is that one must make reservations approximately five months ahead of time. Another 50 people will do the same for that same date for CBS’ Letterman (N.Y.C.) show.

April 15th would be a good date to shoot for (as a starting date) as it is Tax Day in the U.S., and it can be a day when we tax the government with demands.

If the first “interference” with taping of the shows takes place on April 15th, 2005 (a Friday), follow-up disruptions can occur on the next week’s Monday (18th) and Tuesday (19th) shows. From a PR standpoint, there are many reasons why this configuration is…beautiful, pregnant with promise.

I think this kind of thing –interrupting Entertainment As Usual in this form– is unprecedented. A watershed event? I wouldn’t want it any other way.

And it could be supported by small groups demonstrating solidarity in each of the capital cities in the continental United States…with simultaneous actions –specifics to be revealed on a need-to-know basis– breaking out on the three days in question. The form of the support would not be your run-of-the-mill protest.

This would easily give the impression that there was deep grassroots backing, a cross section of citizen solidarity that would be difficult for the media NOT to cover. Overreaction on the part of authorities can be expected. And the core group recruited for this plan –in working together for the better part of six months– should be able to have follow-up actions orchestrated for the remainder of 2005.

Both talk shows have such large audiences, there is no question that if we interfere with the taping of the programs (for three days in close succession) it will be a national story for the media. In fact, I believe it has the potential to be a story of international interest, particularly with the re-election of Bush (depending on what our demands are).

Special note: Household Nielsen ratings for talk shows tend to hover around 4 or 5, that’s approximately 4.5% of the country’s 97 million TV households.

This underscores the huge impact we can have virtually overnight*. Problems created for the shows’ sponsors alone make “dealing with us” obligatory…as nothing “live” would be possible for three days. And much that’s problematic for The Powers would linger long after The Plan is history.

*It is noteworthy that although many have no compunctions about using some forms of violence eventually, this initial foray can be completely nonviolent. It is also something that can be pulled off legally. Both points are significant in being able to recruit people to join hands with us. Also note, on this count, that if the participants live in the NYC or L.A. areas…they can be involved without a financial burden or scheduling pressure.

We do not need more than 300 people total to implement The Plan. In recruiting, however, it is essential that signing people on not be rushed. That’s because success will be contingent, in great part, upon working in confidence for about half a year…and beyond.

Each individual involved will have to be capable of being part of the dynamic anonymously. And –following implementation of The Plan– the ideal would be to keep as little information as possible from law enforcement officials et. al. for obvious reasons.

Other activists, it is hoped, will be inspired to conduct similar activities by virtue of the The Plan simply having been implemented. Many details can remain a mystery. The facts that small activist numbers are adequate and no money is required are of monumental importance.

When the media descend on us to inquire why we’re going to all the trouble to do what we’re doing, what should we tell them? Should we delineate a list of demands?  Note only one concern? Perhaps a book or two, or some other sources, should be cited as recommendations. If you have any imagination whatsoever, you can have a field day with this potential scenario. Certainly it’s as good an op to help the public self-educate as anything else that’s come down the pike.

“Maximum coverage” could be guaranteed by tweaking a few particular issues, that I’d like to keep under wraps for the moment. I think we all know what some might be.

It could be that once someone gets stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge because of a political demo, they’re so angry…they can’t learn anything. Can’t be considered a candidate for crossing over, so to speak. Critical Mass Syndrome? I submit that this particular interruption of routine is a far different animal, full of promise in those regards.

Neither the Letterman nor the Leno shows have much by way of security. They are set up to handle a disturbance between a few individuals. They are NOT set up to handle the kind of ongoing interruptions that we have planned, involving scores of people. Details should not be discussed at this juncture. But they will be over a barrel with the orchestration that’s planned for each evening.

Following the first night’s disruptions, the media buzz is likely to characterize the “protests” as a passing thing. It is highly unlikely that Leno or Letterman staff will expect follow-up occurrences the next week. And any measures that are taken to beef up security can be expected to be minimal. That is why the element of surprise is so important throughout*.

*We will plan to vary the singular ways in which we disrupt the shows each evening…so that it will be very difficult for them to anticipate or deal with what we present. To move laterally. Even with blowing our cover with the posting of this piece, however, I’d say we don’t have a helluva lot to worry about vis-a-vis someone coming across this…and taking action ahead of time.

For the first two disruptions, at least, we should be able to have one or more of our people shooting video/taking photos. This is important because even if NBC and CBS choose to cancel the shows and provide no footage for news outlets, we will be able to provide “inside” visuals to CNN, ABC and various alternative outlets like Democracy Now!

It is our contention that there are several reasons why mainstream outlets will want to cover this story, not the least of which is that we plan to make it very clear that there is great weakness among The Left. They should eat up the points made about lack of solidarity among “progressives” AND the criticism of certain segments of society…that shall remain nameless for the time being. Coverage by all alternative outlets will be mandatory/obligatory by any standards.

Like Jonathan Swift said, you can’t reason a man out of something that he didn’t reason his way into. The public –from our activist POV– needs their business as usual stopped dead in its tracks.  It’s entertainment, in this case. That’s the only way that certain issues will find their way onto the table for expeditious talk and action.

On a very general level, it’ll be easy for armchair psychologists to be dismissive regarding the potential to win people over, educate, etc. Armchair activists too, I dare say.

But I submit that if someone loved, say, Cockburn’s/St. Clair’s The Politics of Anti-Semitism*, or had a favorite set of sustainable living talking points…they could do far worse than to be “a swinger of birches” (5) with us on this venture. I see it as a great way to push one’s particular thing/come to a consensus with like-minded souls. I trust that many will fully embrace my open letter in confidence.

*This particular book is not chosen at random; it provides a hint respecting something alluded to above. Regardless, this or that source or cause can be substituted.

There is much that must not go down the Memory Hole, the Black Hole. The way of the pods.

We just can’t keep sleepwalking in circles.

If the abominable Pizarro could “conquer the Inca Empire” with less than 200 psychopaths, certainly the abominations of this “civilization” can be effectively addressed with 300 well-intentioned souls.

That’s part of The Plan.

Blessings in solidarity,

RICHARD OXMAN, Red States Party Member in Good Standing, can be reached at:


(1) An updated version –taking advantage of recent criticism– is available upon request; comments are encouraged at the above site or at to stimulate public discussion.

(2) See his On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality (Oakland: AK Press, 2003).

(3) Dime’s Worth of Difference is the title of a marvelous book, wherein Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair go “beyond the lesser of two evils.”

(4) “The greatest divide in the world today is not between the US elite and its people, or the US elite and the people of the world. It is between the US people and the rest of the world.” So says Justin Podur at

(5) As per Robert Frost.


RICHARD OXMAN can be found these days reading Joe Bageant’s material in Los Gatos, California; contact can be made at The Ox’s never-before-revealed “biography” is available at of his recent writing can be found in his Arts & Entertainment section and Features (under Social) there.