2011-10-15

The Big Mithrandir

 THE TRAIL TO THE FORD OF BRUINEN: 
 ELROND's eyes are on the trail as he listens to GANDALF, while walking. 
 
 GANDALF 
      I mean we totally fucked it up, man. We fucked up his pay-off.  We got the Black Riders all pissed off at us, and Saruman, he yelled at me a lot, but he didn't do anything.  Huh? 
 
 The eagle is circling overhead and shrieks at them. 
 
 ELROND 
      Well, sometimes the cathartic, uh. 
 
 GANDALF 
      No No, I'm saying if he knows I'm a fuck-up, why does he leave me in charge of getting this ring back?  Because he doesn't fucking want it back, man!  He's had enough!  He no longer digs power!  It's all a show!  Ok?  But then, why didn't he give a shit about his mithril?  I mean, he knows we never handed off his chest, but he never asked for it back.  The mithril was never in the chest.  The chest was fucking empty, man!  The asshole was hoping that they would keep the ring!  You threw out a ringer for a ringer! 
 
 ELROND 
      Huut!  Okay, but how does all this add up to an emergency? 
 
 GANDALF 
      Huh? 
 
 ELROND 
      I'm saying, I see what you're getting at, 'Dalf, he kept the mithril, my point is, huum, here we are, it's the Third Age, the Last Alliance of Elves and Men is over, so I'm only allowed to intervene if it's a matter of life or death-- 
 
 GANDALF 
      Will you come off it Elrond.  You're not even fucking Elvish, man. 
 
 ELROND 
      What the fuck are you talking about? 
 
 GANDALF 
      Man, you're fucking seven-sixteenths mortal. 
 
 ELROND 
      What the fuck are you talking about?  I got confirmed when I married Celebrían! 
 
 GANDALF 
      Yeah. 
 
 ELROND 
      Come on, 'Dalf! 
 
 GANDALF 
      Yeah, yeah yeah! 
 
 ELROND 
      You know this! 
 
 GANDALF 
      Yeah, and five hundred fucking years ago, she went over the Sea. 
 
 ELROND 
      So, what are you saying?  When you get separated, you turn in your Grey Havens ticket?  You get bi-focals?  You stop being Elvish? 
 
 GANDALF 
      This is the canyon. 
 
 AS THEY TURN: 
 
 ELROND 
      I'm as Elvish as fucking Fëanor. 
 
 GANDALF 
      Man, you know, it's it's all a part of your sick Celebrían thing man.  Taking care of her fucking eagle.  Going to her fucking forest shrine.  You're living in the fucking past. 
 
 ELROND 
      Twenty-one thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Ingwë to Legolas--YOU'RE GODDAMN RIGHT I'M LIVING IN THE FUCKING PAST! I--Jesus. What the hell happened? 
 
 He is looking off as their pace slackens.  GANDALF looks where ELROND is looking.  They see a half-dozen black horses drowned in the river. 
 
 ELROND 
      Jesus Christ. 

2011-09-17

What We Forgot

Ten years ago, this country forgot itself. Again.

We forgot that global modernity is extremely complex, most people haven't adapted to it, and many never will.

We forgot that the bomber always gets through, whether it takes the form of an aircraft, missile, car, or backpack.

We forgot that valuing liberty includes accepting risk, and infringing upon liberty in the name of security requires a sound evaluation of that risk.

We forgot that war inevitably results in not only the death and privation of innocents but also atrocities and dishonor by all its participants.

We forgot that war is the ultimate bonanza for corrupt bureaucrats, embezzlers, grifters, and sadists.

We forgot that torture fails to provide accurate information, sullies our reputation as a force for civilization, provokes similarly barbaric retribution, and unfits our torturers for return to society.

We forgot that warrantless and secret surveillance, detention, interrogation, and execution are fundamentally incompatible with democracy.

We forgot that racial and religious discrimination always wound society and mar the search for justice.

We forgot that to defeat an "existential threat" would be hollow if we also injured our essential liberties.

We have forgotten many of these things before, and later remembered them. Some of them remain forgotten.  My American flag did not fly last Sunday, because I see nothing patriotic about another day that provoked our worst impulses.  It is flying today, as it does every Constitution Day, to express my hope that we remember our better selves.