Thursday, October 12, 2006

the very antithesis of individual liberty and a limited federal government

I had a joke for ACME this week (before I got sick) about how Bush responded to the North Korean nuclear test by moving to immediately ban gay marriage. I have a cold and a sore throat, so I can't do the joke, but it's an easy one that can be used again for just about anything Bush and the Republicans do, because they talk a big tough line about protecting Americans, but when you get right down to it, all they really do is expand their power and pander to their ultra-right, authoritarian, moralistic religious base.

Greenwald says it perfectly:
The same people who relentlessly insist that this war against The Terrorists which we are fighting is so grave and of such overriding danger that we have to dismantle the Constitution and vest unprecedented domestic powers in the President to fight it, are simultaneously causing the FBI to devote its resources to finding and arresting adults who choose to spend their time and money on gambling and adult pornography, all because James Dobson and Bill First think those activities are immoral and irreligious and, therefore, the Federal Government can and should use its vast law enforcement powers to dictate how adult citizens conduct themselves in their private lives.

It has been obvious for quite some time, and certainly since the Schiavo travesty, that the Bush-led Republican Party is the very antithesis of individual liberty and a limited federal government. The administration and its Congressional loyalists not only seek unlimited state power in name of combating terrorism but also in the name of enforcing private morality.
(emphasis mine) Why don't the so-called Libertarian conservatives get this? Why do people like my father continue to buy into the ridiculous canard that Democrats want to take your money way, when the Republicans are working very diligently to tell you exactly how and where and on what you can spend it?

I, for one, am fed up with this. I am fed up with 30% of the country and a bunch of fanatical religious zealots deciding what the rest of us adults can do in the privacy of our homes.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

the terrorists are winning

The biggest problem I have with the "torture first and maybe ask questions sometime later, if at all" crowd is that imprisoning people without trial never gives them a chance to prove if they are innocent or not.

This is important: just because the government, or a prosecutor, or even the King Himself George Bush says it is so, does not mean that someone is guilty. A trial may prove that someone is guilty, but all people who can be seized by this mighty country should be afforded, at the very least, the opportunity to speak in their own defense, and have their case heard by a judge or jury. Until someone is charged with a crime, and given a chance to respond to those charges, nobody, not even the president, can say if they are guilty or not.

So, with that in mind, read Tristero:
After racking my brain, I can come up with only one reason why Padilla was held for 3 1/2 years without charges and tortured. It was not because Padilla had 3 1/2 years of information that needed to be elicited it from him. It was not because what he may have known was a state secret. Padilla was imprisoned and suffered simply because Bush wanted to prove he had the power to do so. To anyone, even Americans.

Why? Why would Bush want to do that? What does he - more importantly, what does the country - gain from this kind of totalitarian behavior? Well, once again, Bush is making a point, that the president has the power to do whatever the president wants, without having to provide reasons to anyone. Especially during "wartime."

And Bush thinks, and the Bush administration thinks, and Republicans think, that it is a Good Thing. They must destroy America in order to save it. Shrink the American government down to nothing, so it drowns, as Norquist once said. What no one ever asked Norquist was what Republicans would replace the American government with.
It occurred to me last night, while listening to the president ramble on about something or another, that this man is simply unqualified to be the leader of my country. All this man and those around him want is entirely unchecked and unchallenged power. After five years of listening to them and their supporters tell me that I am not patriotic, or I am weak, or I wish to aid those who would seek to hurt me, my family, and the country we love, I have finally had enough. It is Mr. Bush, who is weak. It is Mr. Bush who has given the animals who attacked us on September 11, 2001 everything they hoped for, and more. Those people who have given in to terror, those people who are so afraid of their own shadows that they are willing to light our Constitution on fire to drive those shadows away; they are cowards. They are weak. They have allowed themselves to be terrorized, and in their cowardly, shameful rush to unquestioningly line up behind Mr. Bush and give him whatever power he wants, enencumbered by the courts or Congressional oversight, those very people are taking my country away from me.

America is a nation of laws, that has endured a civil war, the great depression, two world wars, and the Cold War. It is shameful that, under Mr. Bush's "leadership," 19 terrorists were able to do what Stalin, Kruschev, and Hitler could not.

I sincerely hope that we are a strong enough people to survive this simplistic, binary, "us vs. them" worldview favored by Mr. Bush, and that all the damage he has done to our standing in the world, and the very things that have always made America such a wonderful country can be repaired.

If not, a lot of people have shed a lot of blood for absolutely nothing, and the terrorists have certainly won, all because George Bush is an unqualified, simplistic, power-hungry man, surrounded by his equals.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New ST:TNG episode review on TV Squad: "The Last Outpost"

It's the most spectacular failure to introduce an enemy in the history of television! The Ferengi ended up making those aliens at the end of Explorers look like Reavers. This review is way long, but I think it's pretty funny, too.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Dark Side of the Bowl

I never really got into Pink Floyd the way that some of the "heads" did in my high school. I was nowhere near daring and/or cool enough to hang with the stoner/party crowd when I was in high school, and I sure as hell wasn't able to identify good music at that age. Back then, I was probably trying to score tickets to the Great White/Whitesnake/White Lion concert on the River in Manchester, NH.

Luckily, in college I started hanging with a crowd that appreciated decent music. One of my friends introduced me to Roger Waters, via his solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitchiking. If I remember correctly, we got super stoned on some local New Hampshire redbud and turned out the lights and listened to a concept album featuring "that guy from Pink Floyd" and Eric Clapton ( Needless to say, I was hooked.

From Pros and Cons I moved on to Waters' other solo albums, including my personal favorite, Amused to Death. Like the rest of Roger Waters' masterpieces, Amused to Death is a concept album. The theme throughout the album is that with the help of TV, our society has reduced war and killing to a videogame. Because of that, we are on track to literally amuse ourselves to death. Although almost twenty years old, it is remarkably relevant today. If you've never heard it, it's the one album I try like hell to convince people to listen to, without much success.

Continuing the backdoor route to Pink Floyd, I eventually bought Wish You Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon. Finally, after years of seeing Pink Floyd on the faded shirts of hippies and stoners (many of whom were my best friends in college), I understood the hype. There is genius in the music of both Pink Floyd and Roger Waters, and although you will find those that consider David Gilmore the force behind Floyd, I am of the Waters school. I think he is a musical genius, with an unbelievably strong and interesting point of view that is evident in all of his music.

He performed all weekend at the Hollywood Bowl, and in addition to that, he played the ENTIRE Dark Side of the Moon album, beginning to end. Under a full moon. In the open air, in the shadow of the Hollywood Sign.

Holy Fucking Crap.

I bought tickets for the Friday night show three months ago, but since the friends I was supposed to go with bought tickets for the Sunday night show instead, I found myself with an extra ticket. I spotted this post by Wil, which included this key line:

"I'm listening to The Wall and The Final Cut today." It seems appropriate.

An e-mail later, Wil agreed to take the extra ticket and meet me at the Bowl.

I thought I was a fan. Wil is a REAL fan. Although the concert was billed as "Roger Waters playing the Dark Side of the Moon" album, he also played a bunch of classic Floyd. Wil knew every song within the first note. My favorite quote of the night was when Wil turned to me as one song began and said:


We also played the scavenger hunt point game with arbitrary rules like, first one to spot:

Hand Made Tibetan Knit Cap = negative 500 points
Gray Ponytail to the Ass = negative 4000 points
Vintage Pink Floyd Shirt= +500 points
Bedazzled Pink Floyd Shirt= negative a million
Dude Dancing a Wavy, mushroom inspired freestyle dance= negative a kajillion
Seeing Corey Feldman on the way out, carefully poised under the only well-lit area so that everyone could see him= priceless

It was a really fun night, and an absolutely terrific show. My little write-up here doesn't really do it justice. Wil, maybe you can tackle it better than I just did. Mine meanders and seems out of order. Page two though, you know? Fuck perfect.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Film Version of Good Omens Will Cost One Groat

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens is closer to being made into a film by ubergeek director Terry Gilliam . . . if the director can track down a coin that hasn't been minted since the 1780s called a groat. (@ SGNews, via boingboing)

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