Seeing Roger Waters perform the entirety of "Dark Side of the Moon" at Jones Beach was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
The Pink Floyd founder brought his band to the chilly, open-air amphitheater on New York's Long Island Sound, kicking off with the iconic cackling and heartbeat sound effects that lead into "Speak To Me," the album's opener.
People were passing around joints. My friends and I shared beers with an old hippie named Gordon. The crowd swayed. It began to rain, but nobody cared. I remember settling into a trance as the synthesizers bled into a guitar solo on "Any Colour You Like."
Then came the pig.
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A giant, pink, inflatable pig with the words "Vote Democrat on Nov. 2!" and some choice phrases about then-President George W. Bush written on the side.
What a mood-killer. Former President George W. Bush was the last person I wanted to think of while enveloped in that warm sonic fold, sort of like your grandmother's face is the last thing you want popping into your head in the middle of an intimate moment. Equally annoying was the fact that Waters is British, not American, and really had no business telling Americans how to vote.
So I can understand and sympathize completely with London Mayor Boris Johnson, who has taken umbrage at President Barack Obama injecting himself into the debate about whether the U.K. should remain part of the European Union.
Obama is scheduled for an across-the-pond trip in April, where he's expected to repeat his position, loudly and often, that the U.K. is better off if it remains part of the 28-state supergovernment. Undoubtedly, Obama hopes his visit will bolster the case for EU membership ahead of the June referendum.
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Johnson, who is in favor of separating from the EU, is understandably annoyed.
"Some time in the next couple of months we are told that President Obama himself is going to arrive in this country, like some deus ex machina, to pronounce on the matter," Johnson wrote in a March 14 opinion article in The Telegraph. "Air Force One will touch down; a lectern with the presidential seal will be erected. The British people will be told to be good to themselves, to do the right thing."
Johnson's also right when he points out the hypocrisy of an American president telling people in another country how to vote. Here in the U.S., we're famously protective of our right to decide our own political fates.
Few things can make a conservative's blood boil more reliably than telling him he should vote a certain way because, say, the French want him to. I don't doubt that many Americans would vote a certain way out of spite if a foreign leader would presume to touch down in Washington and tell Americans how to vote. Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a staunch ally of the U.S., knows when to back off and avoid meddling in American elections.
"There is no country in the world that defends its own sovereignty with such hysterical vigilance as the United States of America," Johnson wrote. "This is a nation born from its glorious refusal to accept overseas control ...To this day the Americans refuse to kneel to almost any kind of international jurisdiction."
Give Johnson credit for perfectly understanding Americans. We don't even like it when our federal government butts in on state and local affairs.
Hell would freeze over before we'd let a foreign leader make even the most trivial decisions, as the U.K. is forced to do with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Pigs would fly -- and not just Waters' pigs -- before Americans would retire the dollar in favor of some pan-American currency. And if a U.S. president announced the intention to hand over even a tiny slice of sovereignty to a power outside the country, every gun shop from California to Mississippi would be sold out of ammunition and assault rifles within a week.
There are compelling reasons for the U.K. to leave the EU, as the BBC notes in a handy cheat sheet on the referendum. The U.K. pays billions of pounds in membership fees, but doesn't get much in return. EU regulations put a damper on British businesses, and fiscal policies are set by people far away who don't necessarily have the country's best interests at heart.
Perhaps most pressing, in an age of refugees and mass migration, the U.K. wants to gain back control over its borders, and set its own policies on who can come and go.
The people of the U.K. deserve to make those decisions for themselves.
"In urging us to embed ourselves more deeply in the EU’s [federalizing] structures, the Americans are urging us down a course they would never dream of going themselves," Johnson wrote. "That is because they are a nation conceived in liberty. They sometimes seem to forget that we are quite fond of liberty, too."