Runcible Blog

Bush: Enemy of Freedom

Why do I get the urge to punch something whenever Bush speaks?

I should say that i've been in pretty good spirits lately, even if my tone seems negative. But the state of the union address really pushed my buttons. The president gets an hour of free airtime to distort the truth, gloat to his friends, and condemn those who disagree as unpatriotic enemies of America. And the only feedback allowed from the audience (congress) is either enthusiastic applause or a standing ovation. I'd imagine that if Bush gave his speech to Parliament in Britain he'd have been booed to death. (similarly, if he'd given the speech to Parliament, the band, he would have been funked up. *rimshot*)

The camera panned away during applause for audience reaction, but whenever it panned back to Bush he was giving his characteristic dumb-ass, arrogant smirk. Laura Bush, on the other hand, maintains an incredibly creepy, demented grin at all times. She's either drugged beyond belief or is actually a robotic house wife from circa 1952.

Have you noticed how often Bush talks about "freedom"? I believe that he is employing a well-known technique where one repeats a word so often that the word becomes meaningless or loses its original meaning. After hearing a Bush speech one starts taking the words free and freedom for granted, which inevitably opens the definition up to distortion. For instance, does the PATRIOT act preserve America's freedom or does it enable government agencies to spy on law abiding citizens, thus encroaching on their freedom? Does the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage preserve America's freedom or does it discriminate against a large group of people? Bush complained, "Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard." I almost smashed the TV at that line. Coming from the president who said he didn't pay attention to focus groups (the millions of protesters before the war), I'd say he can pretty much STFU on this one.

Back to freedom -- I particularly enjoy the term, Enemies of Freedom. To put international terrorism and politics into such comically simplistic terms insults everyone's intelligence. And coming from an intellectual titan like Bush, it's doubly insulting. Any enemy of the US is just jealous. They just hate our freedom, that's all.

But wait a minute, if this epic battle is all about freedom, shouldn't people be free to hate America's freedom? And, since Rumsfeld said, "...freedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes.", does that mean I'm free to loot? Oh no, I'm getting trapped in a maze of meaningless uses of the word freedom!

Well, if Bush is going to refer to any miscellaneous enemy of America as an Enemy of Freedom, I'll have to start using the term to refer to a true "Enemy of Freedom": George W. Bush! My mischievous hope is that by linking Enemy of Freedom to Bush's site (and if others do, too), the phrase will be Google bombed, and anyone searching for Enemy of Freedom will be directed to a true Enemy of Freedom. Try searching for "miserable failure" on Google. The bombing campaign works! Try it -- it's fun!

Girl With A Pearl Earring

I saw Girl With a Pearl Earring Friday night. Critics have praised the film's beauty, and I think the praises are deserved, for the most part. But I can't help but nitpick a movie I just spent $9.25 to see:

  • The setting is Holland, 1665, yet the characters all have British accents (and it's an American movie). I know it's a common trick to give all foreign people British accents in American movies, but it does seem silly.
  • The foley artists went a little overboard with the minute sound effects. It sounded like the actors were wearing tap shoes.
  • The film gets a little sloppy during the candle lit scenes. Either they pushed the film or used higher speed film for those parts. The shadows become grainier and grayer.
  • Possibly related to the previous nit: the color balance/film characteristics changed somewhat between the outdoor and indoor scenes in a noticeable-yet-not-pronounced-enough-to-be-deliberate way. I don't know if it was Kendall Theater's copy or the original negative that looked a little off.

Those are my only nits, and they're very picky at that. I can't comment on the plot because I don't even know how much truth there is to the story. I know it's based on a novel by Tracy Chevalier. The plot isn't fleshed out very much; the film is more of a "character based" story -- which is to say, it's a chick flick. But that's alright. I liked it, overall (though unfortunately, I didn't have a chick to bring along to the flick).

I might see it again when it comes out on DVD but only to spend another 2 hours staring at Scarlett Johansson. Gaa-gaa.

Check out that Caucus!

The Iowa caucus is rapping up by now, and it looks like Kerry will win (boo! hiss!).

That whole caucus concept is so archaic. Watching it on CSPAN is about as much fun as watching little kids choose teams for a kickball game. I thought I was bad for not being able to outline adequately Dean's platform for undecided voters; these caucus-goers seem surprisingly superficial. One Dean supporter said, "Join us. Governors are natural presidents." (paraphrased). Most of the people at the caucuses on TV seemed motivated more by gut than reason, which I suppose isn't a bad thing. But it doesn't bode well.

I support Dean for some superficial reasons too: I don't trust Kerry because he's a Skull and Bones member (and won't talk about it); I can't support Clark because I'd rather not vote for someone from the military industrial complex; Edwards doesn't impress me (talk about a superficial reason!) and just doesn't seem interesting enough. Kucinich has some good ideas, but he wouldn't stand a chance against Bush attack ads. No, I still think Dean can take the nomination and put up a good fight against Bush. He's certainly not the radical liberal many pundits have tried to paint him as (I disagree with some of Dean's opinions -- for instance, his support of the Afghanistan war). And he doesn't seem like the angry, pessimistic candidate everyone's harping about. It's called standing up for something -- Washington insiders could learn a thing or two.

As an aside, I just heard Chris Matthews ask, "DO YOU THINK THE PERCEPTION THAT DEAN IS ANGRY HAS HURT HIM IN IOWA? DOES IT SEEM THAT HE'S YELLING AT PEOPLE?" Gee, I don't know, Chris, but the yelling bit seems to have worked for you!


Getting back to that sweaty caucus, I propose that instead of having each candidate's supporters try to sway each other to join one camp or another, they should fight to the death for their candidate. They should paint their faces with goat's blood, dress in their candidate's traditional tartan colors, and wield battle axes and spears. Whichever group survives claims all of Iowa's delegates for their candidate...and gets to rape and pillage the nearest metropolis.

All I'm saying is that if you're going to use archaic systems like caucuses, why not go all out and get medieval on the electorate?

Bush: Straight to the Moon!

Bush's plan for manned missions to Mars and the moon has been receiving a fair amount of criticism already. It's surprising to see the Tribune come out against a Bush policy. That can't be a good sign.

I think criticism of the policy is warranted, but not for the same reasons most people are using. According to the Tribune, "the public is evenly split on the wisdom of sending humans back to the moon and beyond; and if forced to choose, a majority (55 percent) would rather see the money spent on domestic programs." It looks like the Op-Ed's are focusing on the financial aspect of the policy rather than the scientific worth. Now, as ever, there are plenty of people calling for the dismantlement of the entire space program, claiming it is a waste of money that could be spent on schools or other social programs. Those critics do have a point -- space exploration is expensive, but unfortunately I think NASA is unjustly being treated as the whipping boy of the government, as usual.

Any time there is a major story about a NASA proposal or anything dealing with tax money, critics come out of the woodwork to propose massive cuts in the already drastically cut NASA budget. I did a quick search for the budget numbers, and here's what I found, for comparison:
NASA Fiscal Year 2003 Budget: $15.0 billion
NASA Fiscal Year 2004 Budget: $15.47 billion
2% of the discretionary budget
Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2003 Budget: $364.6 billion
Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2004 Budget: $379.9 billion
Nearly 50% of the discretionary budget
Department of Homeland Security Fiscal Year 2004 Budget $41.3 (or $26.7 if you use fuzzy math) billion

I chose to pick on the Defense Department's budget, but nearly every other department of the government has a larger budget than NASA. The fact is that Americans pay at least 25 times as much tax money for developing weapons of mass destruction than we do for space exploration, and 7 times as much as we spend on education. Yet where are the public debates about whether we should spend $12.2 billion this year for building ships, or $8 billion for a missile defense system which has been a huge boondoggle to date and which probably won't protect America at all? When will Americans start writing letters complaining that we already have enough F-22 fighters and that $5.2 billion can be better used improving infrastructure?

There was much controversy about the Big Dig's budget overruns. I think at last count the project has cost upwards of $15 billion dollars over 20 (?) years. The Department of Defense has already spent that amount in the first two weeks of January (if you average the money out over time). Think about that for a second. Talk about misplaced priorities.

In an economic slowdown, NASA and other scientific endeavors face budget cuts and irate taxpayers, while the DOD carries on with business as usual. I'm sure real economists and political scientists can explain this phenomenon much better than I can, but just thinking about it from an average citizen's perspective boggles my mind.

So, I think there are good reasons to be skeptical of any manned missions to Mars or the moon at this time (and I'm sure many astrophysicists will agree); I just don't think money should be the primary concern. NASA seems to be doing "more with less" lately, and I think they have a lot of very interesting and useful programs in the planning stages (space telescopes, more unmanned probes/rovers, etc.) which should be encouraged and funded.

I would be happy if people started putting as much pressure on the Defense Department as they nitpick other Departments' budgets.

just my 2¢

wanted: editor

It occurs to me that I should reread each entry before posting. I'm not happy with my often awkward phrasing (being an aspiring grammar Nazi doesn't help). Can I get a proofreader?