Category Archives: politics

Do you want to take the window, or the stairs?

We all know that I feel very strongly about the need for a 3rd party, and I will end up voting 3rd party this year in my state’s governor race.
But the sad truth is, we in California are going to end up with Bill Simon or Gray Davis in our governor’s mansion.
Can we stop this ride? It’s making me sick and I want to get off.
Now, I can go off on a major rant here, but I won’t.
Instead, I just want to share this hilarious link that I saw on memepool this morning: eGray. It made me howl, because there’s a joke here in California that goes like this:


How do you get Gray Davis to change his position on an issue?
Tell him the check bounced.

Haw haw haw.
It looks like this site is run by supporters of Class-A moron Bill Simon, who is running on his “business record,” but won’t let anyone have a meaningful look at his books…which is understandable, I guess…I mean, poor Bill Simon is very busy right now dealing with the 78 million dollar judgement against his company…for fraud. No wonder Bush called him “a prudent businessman.” He said it with a smirk…but he seems to always have that smirk, so maybe I’m reading too much into it.
D’oh! I said I wouldn’t rant and then I went ahead and did it. Dammit.
Boy, Bill Simon or Gray Davis…talk about the evil of two lessers. Talk about bottom feeders. Talk about a hobson’s choice.
Did you know there’s a saying, “As California goes, so goes the nation?”
Oh, will someone please stop this ride? It’s making me sick and I want to get off.

H.

This afternoon, you can watch me on TechTV’s The Screen Savers. Then tonight, I head into the DNA Lounge in San Francisco to defend your right to free speech and parody on the Internet as I go toe to toe with Barney in a celebrity boxing match brought to you by the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Chilling Effects project.
If you’re in or near San Francisco, and your value your rapidly diminishing rights of free speech and free expression, I encourage you to come and check it out.
However, if you can’t be there, for whatever reason, here is a copy of the speech I’m giving tonight.

“Copyright law is a good idea. It allows actors, writers, and musicians to create and own intellectual property, and hopefully derive a living from their creations.
As an actor and writer, I have a personal stake in making sure that Copyright law is enforced. If I can’t own the works I create, then I can’t feed my family.
The music labels, publishing houses and studios who release our creative works would have you believe that unless we strengthen copyright laws, their clever euphemism for eroding your rights to parody and free expression, all artists will suffer.
Don’t you believe them. As a negotiator for the Screen Actors Guild, I have firsthand experience with these men who claim to care so greatly for artists, and I call shenanigans. The greatest danger to musicians is not Gnutella. It is the label. The greatest danger to actors and film makers is not DeCSS. It is the studio. These corporate masters care little for the artists who are filling their 4 car garages with new Porsches and filling their private jets with fuel and “hostesses.”
What they do care about is controlling how you listen to music, or watch movies, and, increasingly, how you discuss and react to our creations.
Copyright law was best described as “a balance between expression that the owners can control and expression that is left open to the commons.”
Right now we are facing the complete destruction of that delicate balance. Corporations, and their congressional lap dogs, are doing everything in their power to ensure that the “expression left open to the commons” is forever removed, leaving only “expression the owners can control.”
That is a truly terrifying statement, which bears repeating: “expression only the owners can control.”
Do you want your freedom of expression controlled by a studio, record label, or multi-national corporation? Do you want Sony’s goons kicking in your door because you dare call Shakira SUCKira? Do you want Paramount to have the right to tell you that you can’t write that Star Trek fan fiction you’ve been working on while your wife is asleep? You know, the one where you’re the captain and Counselor Troi is giving you a “special session?” Do you want Best Buy telling you that you’re a criminal for expressing, on your website, your opinion that, “Best Buy sucks?”
Of course we don’t. We all value our freedoms of expression and our rights to satire and parody. Can you imagine a world without “The Onion,” or “Satirewire?” Area Men everywhere would be slienced. I don’t want to live in that world.
Corporations know that they’re wrong. They rightfully fear the Internet, and those of us who know how to use it. They don’t like it when we step outside of the narrowly defined, consumer culture they’ve created for us.
They have seen “expression left open to the commons” running counter to “expression that the owners can control,” and rather than respect our rights, they are working feverishly to destroy that all-too-delicate balance.
Corporations regularly abuse copyright law to silence dissent. Best Buy, Wal*Mart and Starbucks have all sent Cease and Desist letters to angry consumers who feel that they’ve been ripped off, and, like me, taken their case to the public via the Internet.
So they are shoving money at congress, and sending lawyers after us.
Our fundamental rights are under attack by a terrified cabal of corporate monsters, who have bought and paid for the DMCA and CARP, and I say that the erosion of our rights stops right here, right now.
I will continue to parody public figures and cherished icons.
I will state, on my website, in 100 point flashing red type on a blue background: “Barney sucks! Best Buy sucks! Sony Sucks! Microsoft sucks, Bill Gates is the anti-Christ and John Ashcroft can kiss my ass!”
I will promote artist’s rights. I will educate, enlighten, and empower. I will write, call, FAX and email congress.
Copyright Law is not a tool of repression granted to an unaccountable corporation by a corrupt congress at the expense of an ignorant public.
It exists to protect and promote artists. Don’t ever forget that.
Tonight, we are ignorant no longer, and as ignorance goes, so goes complacency. The EFF has created an online library where you can research your rights, at chillingeffects.org. Get online, get educated and get involved.
Individually, we can get angry. Together, we can, and will, make a difference.”

Europa

I’ve been asked my more than one person to respond to the Open Letter to America, which is currently burning up the internet so fast, you’d think it was written by rtm.
I am reminded of a time in my own life when I got a letter from someone I really cared about, telling me what I refused to tell myself: I was an asshole.
Set the wayback machine circa 1988 or 1989. I am on top of the world. I travel in limos and fly first class to events where hundreds and sometimes thousands of people scream for me. Everywhere I look, I see my face staring back at me from Teen Cheese and Non-Threatening Boys magazines. I am getting more fan mail than anyone else at Paramount.
I am also desperately unhappy.
===
In the summer of 1988 or 89, I had this huge crush on a girl from school. She was really beautiful, sexy, and fun to be with.
We dated a few times, hung out a lot, and I was really falling for her. Then one day she stopped returning my calls, and coming over.
I was crushed. I didn’t understand what had happened.
Then one morning I got a letter from her. In it, she told me, as delicately as possible, that she just couldn’t be around me any more. I was arrogant, rude, ungrateful for what I had, and I treated her like property. I was demanding, overbearing, unwilling to listen to or respect other people’s opinions. I was a dick, an ass, a jerk. She described to me a person I wouldn’t ever want to sit next to on a bench, much less be.
I was stunned. I took the letter to my best friend Darin, and showed it to him, looking for comfort. He’d help me feel better about this frigid bitch, I thought.
When he was done reading it, he asked me what I thought. I declared, with righteous indignation, that she “didn’t know what the fuck she was talking about”, and that she could “fuck off, because it was bullshit.”
Darin looked at me, and he said, gently, “Wil, you should read it again, because she’s right.”
I looked at him, he looked back at me. This was not the reaction I was expecting.
“What?” I asked, wondering if maybe I’d brought the wrong letter.
“[Her name] wrote you this letter because she cares about you, and she doesn’t like what you’ve become. Frankly, none of your friends do. So you can read it again, and take it to heart, or you can blow it off, and continue to alienate yourself from everyone who cares about you, including me.”
I really respected Darin. He was (is) the most tolerant, patient, loyal, honest person I knew (know). His words, added to those I held in my now-quaking hands were a Rosetta stone. Everything I didn’t like about myself but was unwilling to address was all on those 3 sheets of hand-written 8×10 spiral-bound notebook paper, translated by my best friend into language I could understand.
A door was opened in that moment, and I had a choice to make: walk through and face myself, or ignore it and walk past.
I walked through, and on that day I began the process of re-evaluating my life, my priorities, and most importantly my attitude. It was scary, it was uncertain, it was vital. It was a long process, taking nearly 6 years, but it started that day.
People ask me all the time why I haven’t ended up dead or drug-addicted, or in trouble in the law. The answer is still written on those sheets of paper, long-lost but not forgotten.
To this day I carry more than a little bit of guilt for the way I treated her. I’ve been able to apologize to everyone else who I’ve wronged in my life, but never to her. Maybe she’ll read this and hear me say “Thank you, and I’m sorry.”
So, back to the Open Letter. Do I agree with all of it? No. I think some of it is wildly off-base, and I think the message would be listened to by more people who need to hear it if it wasn’t so inflammatory.
On the other hand, I think that America has an opportunity to walk through an open door, and take a long hard look at ourselves. The simple fact is, America, most of the world really doesn’t like us. We’re arrogant, irresponsible, and unaccountable. We loudly an constantly remind the world that we are a Superpower…well, with great power comes great responsibility, right?
The great thing about America is that We The People have a voice, and the louder that voice, the more insistent that voice, the harder it is to silence.
Let’s raise our voice, and walk through this open door. It’s scary. It is uncertain, but it is vital that we do. It will be a long process, but we can do it.
I’ll take the first step, with this Thought for Today:

“If you succeed through violence at the expense of other’s rights and welfare, you have not solved the problem, but only created the seeds for another.”

Just the TIPS of the iceberg?

When I heard about the US Government’s TIPS program this morning, I nearly choked on my breakfast. I’ve been struggling with my outrage and astonishment at this program all day, trying to compose myself long enough to write about it, but my friend Tom Tomorrow has managed to put into words exactly what I am feeling, far more eloquently than I ever could, so I’ll freely steal it from him:

“Facism is a term thrown about too freely, and I don’t believe we’re at a point that its use is justified–but an oppressive and intrusive government, however you want to label it, does not ride into town wearing the uniforms and waving the flags of recognizable evil. It creeps in slowly, wrapped in the flag of your own country, and speaking the language of patriotism and duty, and at each step along the way, its actions seem plausible and defensible–until one morning you wake up and realize the gulf between the way things were and the way things are has grown so wide that there is no going back. Sinclair Lewis tried to point this out more than a half century ago, and given the current climate, It Can’t Happen Here is well worth re-reading (or reading for the first time, if you’ve never come across it before).”

McCarthy would be so proud

Metafilter was the first to share this story from the democratic underground. It seems that Bush was speaking at Ohio State University’s graduation. The students were told that they were expected to provide a “thunderous” ovation and if they disrupted the ceremonies in any way, they’d be arrested.
That’s right. At a public college, the students would be arrested and expelled if they expressed their unhappiness with George W. Bush.
One student, who exercised his constitutionally-protected 1st amendment right of free speech, and turned his back on Bush tells his story here.
Let’s get something straight, because I’m really tired of being told to “move to Afghanistan” because I’m “anti-American”: If we allow the Bush Administration to goose-step all over our civil rights, and we sit back quietly while Ashcroft dances all over the constitution, we no longer have a country worth fighting for.
Things like this transcend political ideology, IMHO. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Democrats or the Republicans who are currently in charge.
The thing that is so amazing about the USA is that I can (as of June 15, 2002) stand here, and loudly proclaim, “I DO NOT SUPPORT GEORGE W. BUSH, OR HIS POLICIES!!,” without fear of reprisal. When graduating students are subject to ARREST for an action like turning their backs on a person who they don’t respect, we have a very serious problem.
I hope that everyone can take off their various political mantles for a moment, and see this for what it is: the unconstitutional silencing of dissidents.
McCarthy would be so proud.

Now I’m pissed

I swear to god.
I hope these useless motherfuckers from Enron die a slow and agonizing death.
We all knew this was going on, and we all screamed about it last year, we all knew that this deregulation of the power industry in California(pdf) was a BAD IDEA but those incompetent morons in the California legislature and that mouthbreather in the governor’s mansion didn’t do a damn thing about it.
You know what makes me so goddamn angry? “Kenny Boy” is such a close friend of “President” Bush, and Enron has bought so many members of Congress (You know, those people who are supposed to represent us in government?) not a damn thing will happen to him.
Me, and thousands of my fellow Californians will be paying for his hubris for DECADES, and he is going to walk.
Grrr.
If you’re interested, there’s lots more Enron info here, and here.
*whew*
Sorry. Got off on a bit of a rant there.
Hey, it happens.

Important Letter to SAG members

If you’re a SAG member, please “read more” below, for an important letter from Richard Dreyfuss regarding the SAG/ATA agreement, which is currently being considered by the membership of the union.
I am completely opposed to the agreement, and could go on, at length, about what a bad deal this is for actors, and how my guild, under the current “leadership” is poised to blow it, yet again, but Richard says it much more clearly than I ever could.

Continue reading

VOTE!

This is a public service announcement…with guitar!
Tomorrow is our primary election in California. This is just a reminder to all registered California voters to get out there, and make your voice heard!
Personally, I think the only thing worse than not voting at all, is voting without being well-informed, and if you’d like to get some non-partisan info on the various candidates and ballot measures, I’d suggest looking here, and here.