No Rights for the Wicked

Maybe you’ve seen this graphic on Facebook?

It’s not a topic that’s getting a lot of coverage, so I wondered, “Are these assertions true? Or is it *technically* correct but missing some piece of truth that would make it less alarming?”

Well…it’s a mixed bag.

Ctrl+F on the 2012 Democratic National Platform fails to find any mention of the words “surveillance”, “warrant”, “wiretapping”, “Patriot Act”, or “habeas corpus”.

What it does include is a paragraph entitled, “Staying True to Our Values at Home,” which says, “Advancing our interests may involve new actions and policies to confront threats like terrorism, but the President and the Democratic Party believe these practices must always be in line with our Constitution, preserve our people’s privacy and civil liberties, and withstand the checks and balances that have served us so well.” This paragraph also says, “That is why we are substantially reducing the population at Guantánamo Bay without adding to it. And we remain committed to working with all branches of government to close the prison altogether because it is inconsistent with our national security interests and our values.”

Okay, great — drop the mentions of specific practices, but instead broadly state that everything needs to be in line with the Constitution. That could be justifiable.

But it kind of falls apart when you consider that we’re talking about an administration that tried to make rules that would prevent Gitmo inmates who don’t have active cases pending against them (ie, those who are being “indefinitely detained”) from meeting with their lawyers. Rules that were overturned by a judge writing, “This very notion offends the separation-of-powers principles and our constitutional scheme.” (NY Times article here, in case you don’t want to read the decision itself.) This is not an administration whose interpretation of what’s constitutional I want to trust.

This is an administration that pledged to close Guantánamo, but, as Glenn Greenwald wrote in July, really just wants to move Gitmo — with all of its secrecy and indefinite detentions — to Illinois. Greenwald points out that the idea that Congress has prevented the closure of Guantánamo is extremely misleading, as much of the Congressional opposition was not to actually closing Gitmo, but to creating precedents of indefinite detention on clearly American soil. Please read the Greenwald article. Here it is again.

What we’re seeing, basically, is that a party that was outraged over Bush’s treatment of potential terrorists and detainees is now willing to look the other way. But no matter how much any of us might like Obama, when a president claims power, that power exists for the next president, too — as pointed out by this somewhat-satirical Gawker video, “Is Romney Ready for the Kill List?”.

Which brings me to my main point — I will never try to convince you that you should not be vehemently opposed to Romney becoming president. I’m not even going to try to convince you not to vote for Obama. But I do implore you to consider that there is no reason to be supportive of everything Obama does. If even the Democrats, who were so outraged and eloquent about abuses of executive power under Bush, are willing to not just tolerate but cheer for a much greater extension of such power under Obama, then I am terrified that any national conversation we could have about the acceptability of assassinating US citizens without due process is just not going to happen. That our fear of electing Romney will allow Obama — or the next president — to perpetrate abuses of executive power that we wouldn’t have even dreamt possible eleven years ago.

It’s a sad truth that we won’t, in the next couple of months, spend any time talking about the ways in which the candidates are the same. This is one of them, and it’s not a happy point of agreement. It may be that we can’t do anything about it in this election. But we can make sure that we don’t begin down our own moral slippery slope; we can remember that even if we support Obama, we don’t have to support all of his policies; and we can make sure that whoever is the next president hears that the people want to continue the conversation about the treatment of both prisoners and our own citizens.

(Oh, and if you want to, you can read this Mother Jones article about the differences between the 2008 and 2012 platforms.)

best news ever

How did I not know this??? Chipotle is coming to Harrisburg!

According to their job posting on Monster.com, the store will open August 7, 2009.

I’m a little embarrassed to be so excited about a fast food chain.

illumination

So. I just “tweeted” for the first time. It’s okay, you can put away the champagne.

I’ve been wondering lately, how the hell did I get so behind on this technology stuff? I’ve never been on the bleeding edge of anything, but I’ve almost always at least been on the knife. Now I feel like I’m on the spoon that’s eating the ice cream for dessert. But here’s the thing:

I’ve *never* been up on the pop-culture stuff. And blogs and Twitter and a gazillion other things that the rest of the world has already adopted have become pop-culture. Tweeting doesn’t make you a dork, it makes you a social networker. And I guess I’m jumping on the social networking bandwagon.

In other news, thanks to Twitter, I learned that Google’s moving Gmail and most (all?) of the Google Apps suite out of Beta. I just need to add here that Gmail launched on April 1, 2004 as an invitation-only service, and I received my invite on April 22, 2004, when they were still going on eBay for $100+ (no, I didn’t pay for mine, it came directly from Google). I really was on top of the technology stuff, once upon a time.

And once upon *this* time, well, I realized today that having set up Twitter to update my Facebook status and having at least figured out what I’ll need to do to get my Twitter feed displayed on this blog, there were no more technological barriers to my tweeting. Instead, I had only to overcome my self-consciousness about how narcissistic I’d have to be to spam all you lovely readers with updates on my mundane life. But now I can check that box off! And if I ever actually tweet again, you all can be just as voyeuristic as you please.

Welcome. Come on in….
http://twitter.com/sunsetchaser

HMAC

So I finally made it to the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center for the first time last night. I thought I was hopelessly late to the party, and that either it had caught on by now, or that it would be a total dud and I’d end the evening elsewhere. I was wrong.

Right now HMAC is really just the Stage on Herr, an “intimate venue”. I think “intimate” is relative to the HMAC spaces that haven’t opened yet, as Stage on Herr is far, far larger than most other city venues. And it’s stunningly beautiful, with warehouse-high ceilings, art everywhere, a long granite bar, and spaces both for sitting and for milling around. If it were part of a movie set — or was set in another city — it would have been filled with beautiful intellectuals talking, drinking, perusing, and just generally, you know, being superior.

In Harrisburg, not so much. The atmosphere was low key — a plus in my mind — and though people came and went, the crowd never exceeded a couple dozen people or so. This made it intimate in that it was easy to have a conversation without shouting, and there were no worries about losing a spot at the bar, but…the space really needed a bigger crowd. That said, the crowd that was there was a pretty eclectic crew, and looked to me like it represented a greater level of diversity — not just ethnic/racial diversity — than I usually encounter in the ‘burg. Or the region.

So why so few people? I suppose one of the pros and cons of out-of-town developers is that they don’t bring an existing audience to their venue. I think this is one reason for the apparent diversity of the crowd — no one was there because it was where all their friends were headed — but also, of course, a weakness. After all, no one was there because it was where all their friends were headed. Also, the initial project announcements were met with such skepticism, and it’s taken so long since the first rumblings for even this small part of the building to open, that I had trouble believing it would ever be a place worth visiting. Like, it would be amateurish or cobbled together as if the developers got overwhelmed halfway through and threw the doors open before it was ready in a desperate attempt to recoup some of the many many dollars they’ve poured into it. But no — it’s sleek and spacious and gorgeous, and well worth visiting.

But. Beautiful as the building is, the operation could use some work. Last night was First Friday, and HMAC advertised live music. There was no live music, at least not during the time I was there (10pm ’til close). That turned out to be okay, as I was glad to be able to hear, but I’d be pretty pissed if I’d been there for the music. In addition, looks like they’ve been creating Facebook events out the wazoo — they have stuff going on nearly every day — but it doesn’t look like they’re actually inviting anyone to those events. So unless you’re a fan and you happen to see the event on your news feed when it’s first created, you might never hear about it.

So, HMAC, email your fans! Invite people to your events! But then make sure to actually put on the events you’ve invited them to….

And those of you who get those invites, go check it out.

unstuck

Hi. Anyone still here?

I did some blog maintenance today, because the platform was so old that all its security flaws had been exploited and stupid hackers were flooding my world with spam. I think that’s fixed now. I hope. I updated the platform to the most recent version my host provides, and I thought it was going to break everything because I was *so* far behind, but mostly it seems to have just boogered up some of the special characters. Sorry about that. And sorry for any other broken stuff you find.

I think I might be about to get back into the blogging thing. It kind of tapered off when I got, as Ani DiFranco once put it, “distracted.” But there’s now one fewer distraction in my life, and words are starting to circulate through my brain again. In a writing way, I mean. I didn’t stop speaking or anything.

Who knows, maybe there will even be a poem or two around the corner.

This little description coming up is going to make it sound like the last three years have been awful, or soul-crushing or something, but please don’t read it that way. Mostly, they’ve been good.

But now I feel a little bit like I’ve been smashed against a wall, or frozen in a clear plastic cube, or something, and I was watching the world go by — albeit from a limited perspective — and now I’m…coming unstuck.

Anyway. I just wanted to say hi. Hi.

biden’s not so bad

From the woman who gave fish bicycles, to any remaining Hillary supporters considering voting for McCain:

To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, ‘Somebody stole my shoes, so I’ll amputate my legs.’”

(Gloria Steinem, that is, in the LA Times.)

Anyway, in other I’m-totally-behind-the-news news, apparently “Gilmore Girls” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino blogged the DNC convention for Entertainment Weekly. Most of it’s more thoughtful than this, but here’s a clip that literally brought me to tears:

The names “Obama” and “Biden” form an almost perfect anagram of Osama bin Laden. Simple solution: Obama should change his name to Smith or Williams. He’s always going on and on about changing things, so this should be no problem.

I hate Joe Biden

I hate Joe Biden.

I really don’t know anything about his politics, and I’ve never followed anything he’s done closely.

All I really know about him I learned from the John Roberts confirmation hearings, which I watched nearly all of. I remember nearly none of it, except that over the course of the blah blah blah and the blah blah blah I finally reached a point where I posed a danger to my TV every time Joe Biden’s face appeared on it. He was less blah blah blah and more BLAH BLAH BLAH. Like all the hot air he used to dry his hair had seeped into his skull and finally replaced his brain entirely.

I’m open to having my mind changed.

celebration

July 4th weekend spawned a variety of commentary on what it means to be “patriotic” — some of it thoughtful, some of it less so. I’m not sure where I’d fall in the mix, but my weekend was celebratory, and further endeared to me this place I call home.

We kicked it off on Thursday with a wine and cheese tasting at nearby Blue Bistro. They’re holding these events from 6pm to 8pm every Thursday in July, but this one was especially tantalizing, paired as it was with the work-free Friday following it. It’s $20 a person for samples of three wines and three accompanying cheeses. This past Thursday included a champagne cheddar served with champagne, a something something served with a something white, and a “true” Stilton served with a something white and sweet. You can tell how seriously I take these things. Seriously, I’m all about the tasting, less about the remembering. We’ll call it, “living in the moment.” And the moment was enjoyable, largely due to the company. The event itself was, well, not so much of an event. I pictured something with a little more ceremony, but they just brought out three glasses and a plate for each person, told us about all six of the items, then left us alone. I guess I was expecting each cheese to come out separately, and in retrospect wonder if that would have made it feel more ceremonious. But whatever. The full menu was also available, and both the red pepper bisque and the polenta — which they were kind enough to serve on its own, no order of less-stellar-salmon required — were outstanding. Their polenta must be half butter, but mmmm is it good.

After we finished our cheese, we returned to the house to continue the “wine tasting”, by which I mean the “wine overindulgence”. This was the first time we’ve had non-family at the new house for any length of time, and if we’d planned it ahead of time things would have been cleaner and more organized, but I also probably would have had less fun.

Friday was all about recovery, doing the cleaning I should have done before guests came over on Thursday, and then heading downtown to see Brasilian-by-way-of-Pittsburgh singer Kenia at the Hilton. Fun music, but we were both zonked, so we headed home relatively early, just in time to hear the fireworks but, due to the opaque buildings lining Second Street, not see them.

Fireworks then became the plan for Saturday, with my family scheduled to come for dinner and a short walk down to the river. At the last minute, though, I checked the schedule again, and saw that Saturday called only for “mini-fireworks” down at Vine Street — about a mile away. So we walked, and as we walked it became clear that I had not been the only one who misunderstood what and where the fireworks for the evening would be. For a while it looked like maybe we were going have them all to ourselves, until a clarifying announcement was made over the loudspeaker, and the droves began walking south.

The mini-fireworks were to accompany the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of the 1812 Overture at the conclusion of their performance. We got there early enough to hear the preceding song or two as well, stayed for the very mini-fireworks display, and then walked back along the river amidst an ever-thinning crowd while the loudspeaker intoned, “RIVERFRONT PARK IS NOW CLOSED. PLEASE EXIT THE PARK.”

And so fireworks became the plan for Sunday, despite that day’s pairing with the work-laden Monday following it. By this point we were really zonked; so zonked, in fact, that we got it in our heads that it would be a good idea to go to Toys R Us and buy bicycles. Yes, bicycles from the toy store. Whatever. We got two Schwinns, apparently models that are so low-end they’re sold only at Toys R Us and Wal-Mart, and aren’t even listed on the Schwinn website. However, they are cute as hell and have two wheels each, and they helped us propel ourselves from here to the north end of Riverfront Park and back again. I’m looking forward to travelling south from here as well, now that the festival stuff has vacated and that section of the park is again open to bikes. Just not for a few more days, until my legs recover.

Luckily, we didn’t have to walk far to get to Sunday’s fireworks. Actually, we walked several blocks further than we had to, in pursuit of a Brasilian/Bluegrass band playing the festival. The plan was to drop in there, then head up to Suba, and then make our way back to the river. We got waylaid, though, by a sign outside the Civic Club of Harrisburg, right next to the stage where the B/B band was playing, indicating that they were serving dinner. Dinner! The woman at the gate suggested that many people like to eat, then hang around for the fireworks. The Civic Club has a lovely lovely building and lovely lovely yard, and is located between the north tip of City Island and the Harvey Taylor Bridge. We were convinced.

According to our server and the menu, the Civic Club is open as a “restaurant” during the three major Harrisburg festivals — ArtsFest, American Music Festival, and Kipona. Food is ably prepared by Karen’s Catering, and apparently service is performed by members of the Civic Club. I still haven’t figured out what the Civic Club does, except that they have a lovely lovely building used mostly for weddings and banquets.

And a yard with a perfect view of the fireworks.

unmentionables

In case you were curious…

http://fldsdress.com/clothing.php?Cat=Underwear

city cats

So, we’re in midtown.

Our arrival coincided rather unfortunately with a spate of violence that I’m sure those of you who live in the area heard way too much about — but despite the coincidence, I swear, it wasn’t us. Anyway, the violence appears to have subsided, at least temporarily, following a number of arrests and the arrival of a fleet of shiny new police cars. Ah, Harrisburg.

Violence aside, I do have mixed feelings about the new locale. I love that we can walk downtown, or just up the street, for a fun evening. I love that we apparently know tons of people within a radius of just a few blocks. I don’t love that I worry about finding parking in a safe place if I get home after dark, and that our “yard” is a little concrete fenced-in strip comprising something like 10 square feet. I love the house itself, I just wish it came with two parking spaces and a beautiful-but-low-maintenance courtyard. I’ll keep dreaming.

In other news, I’ve been frantically cooking and consuming vegetables in a desperate effort to keep up with the weekly inundation. The highlight was probably zucchini & summer squash with garlic scape pesto. The low was probably today’s summer squash & beets scrambled eggs. I have a whole buncha beets I need to use up. I keep fantasizing about documenting the adventures, but, you know, I can’t even keep up with this blog, so that’s not very likely.