Friday, June 30, 2006

And on the Fourth of July they signed it. And fifty-six names underlined it.

As our country's birthday nears I'd encourage all to read through the The Declaration of Independence again.

It strikes me that this document has somehow unfairly morphed through popular culture into simply representing the phrase "no taxation without representation."

There's really a hell of a lot more to the list of the colonist's complaints than taxation. In fact taxes are hardly mentioned at all.

The people then, as now, simply wanted a voice in their own governance.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

You've got me? Who has you?

Superman Returns.

I loved this film but whatever you do DO NOT see it in the IMAX 70mm format.


First a disclaimer: "Superman: The Movie" was one of my favorite films as a kid. The two biggest things that have stuck with me were Christopher Reeve's pitch perfect performance as Superman and John Williams' bombastic score.

I watched it again recently with the young'uns in order to get them in the mood for the new film. During the movie my daughter leaned over and asked me if I ever wished I could fly. I said "Sure, everybody does at one time or another. Usually in dreams."

But her question started wheels turning got me thinking and got me to take a little deeper look at a movie I'd taken at face value for twenty years. Pretty much everything superman accomplishes in "Superman" he does by flying. He woos Lois by taking her on a moonlight flight. He stops Lex Luthor's rocket scheme by flying after the rockets and he performs the ultimate Deus Ex by flying so fast the world actually spins backwards and time regresses. Superman is a man that can bend steel and leap tall buildings, but most important he's a man that can live out our dreams of flying.

I think that's why Christopher Reeve's spinal injury while horseback riding hit us so hard. Sure, he was just an actor but he had become inseparable from the man he played on screen and the man who could fly could know no longer even walk.

Yet Reeve did something amazing. His initial reaction to his injury was deep depression. At on point he discussed ending his life with his wife Dana. With her help and with great determination he began to find purpose in curing his injury and walking again. He started a foundation for the cure of spinal cord injuries. And he took us all along for the ride- stubbornly molding out dreams of seeing him fly into dreams of seeing him get out of his wheelchair and take his first steps in years.

I bring all of this up because Christopher Reeve permeates "Superman Returns" without showing up in a single frame of the film. From Brandon Routh's voice characterizations and appearance to the dialog which lifts generously from the first Superman movie, Reeve is always there- his ghost hovering and smiling over the whole enterprise.

But what really strikes me is the film's subtext as it parallels Reeve's own life and taps into our own lost hopes for the man, particularly in the last act. Superman is on the receiving end of a kryptonite shiv to the back. He winds up in the hospital... Dying from his back injury. The people of the world stand vigil, hoping to see him fly again.

Then, having tapped into our real world hopes for Superman, director Bryan Singer finally gives us the happy ending we lost with the death of Reeve.

Superman flies.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Do you think I'm just anyone? Do you?

George Bush made a much reported comment after his fly-by trip to Baghdad a couple of weeks ago:

"...look, it's a security concern because I'm a high-value target for some. And Iraq is a dangerous place. The American people have got to know that I will take precautions when I travel somewhere. I'm not going to put our government at risk to achieve a very important trip."

Most of the focus on Bush's comment was on the "high-value" comment but the second part of his formulation; that he "wasn't going to put our government at risk" seemed to say a lot more about his frame of mind.

"Our government" didn't make a risky surprise visit to Iraq. The head of the Executive Branch made that trip. As far as I know the supreme court justices, the whole of the congress and the senate as well as the Vice President and most of the cabinet stayed safely at home.

As it's become clear over the last few years George W. Bush and his core supporters continue to view him in a capacity more monarchial than presidential. Glenn Greenwald hits on this today in a post slamming the recent wailing about journalistic treason by conservatives.

None of this has to do with anger over "helping the terrorists." The articles in question so plainly do nothing of the sort. The anger that is unleashed by the media doing its job is the by-product of a belief that the Bush administration should be able to act in complete secrecy, with no checks or oversight of any kind. And it is equally grounded in the twisted view that American interests are synonymous with the political interests of the Bush administration, such that harming the latter is, by definition, to harm the former. In this view -- which has predominated over the last five years -- to oppose the Bush administration's "national security" policies is, by definition, to act against the United States and aid and abet The Terrorists.

The media is guilty of publishing stories which might harm the political interests of the President, not which could harm the national security of the United States. But Bush supporters recognize no such distinction. Harming the "Commander-in-Chief in a time of war" is, to them, synonymous with treason. Hence, we have calls for the imprisonment of our national media for reporting stories which tell terrorists nothing of significance which they did not already know, but which instead, merely provoke long-overdue democratic debates about whether we want to be a country in which we place blind trust in the administration to act in total secrecy.

Of course this sentiment leaves those of us who actually passed our high school civics class scratching our heads and asking "Why does George Bush hate America?"

Or for that matter why do his supporters hate America?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, June 26, 2006

There are no Abominable Snowmen. There are so Sasquatches. There are no Big Feet!

Something about the image of Bush on the cover of Eric Boehlert's "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush" has been tickling the recesses of my subconcious for weeks now until I finally put my finger on it today.

Consider the similarities...

It goes way past appearances. Using "Harry and The Hendersons" as a reference guide to Bigfoot we find the President and Bigfoot share many of the same traits.
  • Both are not-so-bright dufuses.
  • Both prefer to be outside, cutting brush and such.
  • Both emit a horrible, stomach-turning odor.

You and I are such similar creatures Vivian. We both screw people for money.

They claim that this ruling applies only to the Vermont case but it's hard to overlook the fact that a majority of Supreme Court Justices, including Bush's two appointees, equate free speech with money when it comes to campaign laws.

The idea that the government can't make illegal certain ways we spend our money because of the First Amendment has always seemed absurd to me. There are all sorts of activities where the act of purchasing goods or services could precipitate a stay in jail. Think drugs or prostitution, for example.