Thursday, August 30, 2012

My 'John Blake as Batman' fan fiction

I was listening to the Modern Myth Media podcast and they had a question about what they thought would happen in a fantasy continuation of The Dark Knight Rises. I had a few initial thoughts that I wanted to share.

I think John Blake (Robin) becomes Batman. He wears the same suit Bruce wears and pledges to clean up Gotham as it recovers from the events of the last two films. He works in Wayne Manor helping out the orphans. That gives him the ability to stay close to the Batcave.

From that starting point, I think there are two things Robin has to confront; cleaning up the city after Bane's destruction of it and maintaining order after the Dent Act is repealed. As part of repealing the Dent Act, all prisoners who were put in prison under the Dent Act are cleared of the crimes they were accused of committing. And the ability to prevent parole is done away with. So it's going to be more difficult to keep criminals in prison.

Those prisoners have already escaped during Bane's takeover. But the police won't be able to do anything to them unless they are suspected of breaking the law again. What Bruce did in TDKR rallies the people of Gotham and they no longer tolerate crime like they did before. But those prisoners are so angry that they begin to try and reestablish organized crime.

But the real threat has yet to be revealed. The Joker has been sitting in a padded cell in Arkham Asylum since the end of TDK. And for the sake of this story, he was put there under the Dent Act. Since the Dent Act has been invalidated in the wake of the truth about Dent coming out, the Joker is released from Arkham. You can probably draw heavily from the comic book "The Dark Knight Returns" in depicting the Joker's release. Miller's comic does a good job of releasing the Joker after many years in Arkham.

I'm not quite sure how you would get the Joker back in the game of becoming the villain since he knows what Batman did in TDKR and since there is no longer a Batman to contend with. So something needs to happen to bring Batman back into the fold, something bigger than just overseeing the released prisoners and normal crime. This could be where you introduce Oswald Cobblepot (aka, the Penguin) as the newest mob boss.

Not only would the Penguin serve as a villain for Batman, he could also be a foil for the Joker. Penguin could be aware of how the Joker played the mob in TDK and thus refuse to work with him in fighting Batman. You could even have him actively fighting against the Joker since he sees him as too much of a threat.

As they say on the Modern Myth Media podcast, at some point the Joker has to figure out that this Batman is not the same person he was fighting in TDK. You can probably have some fun with that. That's all I've got for now.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How Romney benefitted from gov't

This is kind of a follow up to my last post in which I highlighted Ta-Nehisi Coates' point that Romney has benefitted from affirmative action in a different way than conservatives are claiming Obama has. In this post I want to point you to a very specific way in which Romney benefitted from the gov't, and in a way that contradicts one of his main messages as the Republican nominee for president. Here's Matt Taibbi with the details:

But the way Romney most directly owes his success to the government is through the structure of the tax code. The entire business of leveraged buyouts wouldn't be possible without a provision in the federal code that allows companies like Bain to deduct the interest on the debt they use to acquire and loot their targets. This is the same universally beloved tax deduction you can use to write off your mortgage interest payments, so tampering with it is considered political suicide – it's been called the "third rail of tax reform." So the Romney who routinely rails against the national debt as some kind of child-killing "mortgage" is the same man who spent decades exploiting a tax deduction specifically designed for mortgage holders in order to bilk every dollar he could out of U.S. businesses before burning them to the ground.

Because minus that tax break, Romney's debt-based takeovers would have been unsustainably expensive. Before Lynn Turner became chief accountant of the SEC, where he reviewed filings on takeover deals, he crunched the numbers on leveraged buyouts as an accountant at a Big Four auditing firm. "In the majority of these deals," Turner says, "the tax deduction has a big enough impact on the bottom line that the takeover wouldn't work without it."

Thanks to the tax deduction, in other words, the government actually incentivizes the kind of leverage-based takeovers that Romney built his fortune on. Romney the businessman built his career on two things that Romney the candidate decries: massive debt and dumb federal giveaways. "I don't know what Romney would be doing but for debt and its tax-advantaged position in the tax code," says a prominent Wall Street lawyer, "but he wouldn't be fabulously wealthy."

You see the true motivation behind Republican complaints about gov't spending or benefits in general. They have no problem whatsoever when they are the ones reaping the benefits of gov't. They'll pile up as much debt as is necessary in order to get themselves the benefit. But when they aren't the ones benefitting, that debt that they by and large helped create is the worst thing in the world and threatens the very survival of the nation.

Check out the whole article from Taibbi. It's a good analysis of what Romney and Bain actually did and why his whole professional career is a contradiction of the debt message he touts on the campaign trail. It really confirms what I've said about Romney, that he stands for nothing except for gaining the power he seeks.

The myth of the affirmative action president

I've discussed the ideas of opportunity and determinism quite frequently. And I've invoked Mitt Romney as a good example of how privilege can affect a person's outcome in life. Ta-Nehisi Coates comes to similar conclusions from a different angle, specifically from the calls from conservatives that Obama is an affirmative action president:

But there's also something else -- the frame of skepticism is, as always, framed around Obama, not around Romney. No one wonders what advantages accrued to Mitt Romney, a man who spent his early life ensconced in the preserve of malignant and absolutist affirmative action that was metropolitan Detroit. Romney's Detroit (like most of the country) prohibited black people from the best jobs, the best schools, the best neighborhoods, and the best of everything else. The exclusive Detroit Golf Club, a short walk from one of Romney's childhood homes, didn't integrate until 1986. No one is skeptical of Mitt Romney because of the broader systemic advantages he enjoyed, advantages erected largely to ensure that this country would ever be run by men who looked like him.

Let's grant for a second that Obama is an "affirmative action president". Does that mean he had an easier road to the white house than Mitt Romney did? I don't think that's apparent at all. I'd argue that Obama still would have had a harder time. That's because Obama still had to perform well once he got into the institutions he got into. Just because he got into Harvard (or the Illinois state legislature, or the Senate) didn't mean he would be president.

In a similar manner, just because Romney was born into a wealthy family and into a society that privileged his race over others didn't mean he would be president. We all still make choices. Not everything is completely predetermined. But as Coates points out, Romney had the better opportunity. And most people don't question his rise to the nominee as president because the system has always given people like him the better opportunity.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Summing up the Republican National Convention so far

Someone would have to pay me a lot of money in order to sit through it. But I've skimmed my Twitter feed, which is full of people who were paid to sit through it, and I think I have a good idea of what was said. So as a public service to you, I give you the shorter and deconstructed overall message of the night:

Barack Obama is a bad president because he doesn't look like us and he is a Democrat. And most of the things we are claiming he has done to cover up those two reasons aren't true. If we happen to not lie and mention a problem, we are ignoring any effect we had in making that thing a problem.

In response to this great threat to our country and to the very idea of liberty, we are nominating a guy who has never in any way supported the same things Obama has. And just in case you know anything about Mitt Romney before 2008, we are nominating a VP who once voted to go to war (foreign policy experience: check) and who can put multiple numbers on a piece of paper and convince the Republicans in the House that said paper is a budget.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Republican bubble

Rep. Steve King, he of legalize dogfighting and kidnapping/raping is legal fame, says he has never heard of a woman becoming pregnant by rape. Well of course he hasn't. That's because King, like his Republican colleagues, don't live in the same world as the rest of us. They have no conception of how people other than themselves live their lives. Given my last several posts, you can see where I'm going with this.

Republicans like King and Todd Akin only see what they grew up seeing and what they were told. Unless they have traveled and sought out information about other people and places but simply chose to ignore it, they haven't ventured outside of their own minds and their own experience. Nothing or no one has challenged their worldview. That's how Paul Ryan can get 60% of his cuts in his budget from programs from the poor. That's how they would pass a law that makes it murder to use some forms of contraception. They have no idea what it's like to be poor or to be a woman.

The mob boss, Carmine Falcone, in Batman Begins tells Bruce Wayne that you always fear what you don't understand. For the most part I think he's correct. And along those lines, I think Republicans react with anger towards giving things to the poor or allowing a woman to have an abortion because they don't understand what it's like to be in those situations. Other than sending them on a journey like Bruce takes in Batman Begins, I'm not sure how you change their thinking other than getting more women in gov't and changing norms. Sadly, I have no idea how to pop the bubble regarding the poor.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The GOP's women problem, and women's GOP problem

In my last post I talked about the lack of women in the GOP. Yesterday, some guy named Todd Akin made some elephant shit insane remarks about rape and abortion. I won't quote him here. It's obvious he has no answer for the issue of abortion because of rape and just made shit up to try and justify his horrible position. I'll just send you to this piece by Jamelle Bouie explaining that the policies Akin supports are that of the entire GOP.

What I didn't get to in my last post was some of the specific the consequences of the lack of women in the GOP. I think those remarks and the GOP's stance on abortion might be the biggest consequence. If you read what Akin said and his responses you see that he just has no clue about what it means to be a woman. He barely addresses the woman in his remarks. It's all about the act of rape, which he seems to not fully understand, and the child (as he puts it) that "may" result from the rape.

I pretty firmly believe that if there were more women in the GOP people like Akin would be far less likely to go around saying these kinds of things. They just wouldn't allow this thing to fly. And eventually their experiences as women would influence the rest of the party. Think about gay rights and how individual experience with gay people can affect a person. Dick Cheney has a different view of the issue than the rest of the GOP because his daughter is gay. When your worldview is challenged on an individual level you are more likely to change your way of thinking.

The men of the GOP have only a certain view of rape and abortion because they aren't subjected to the point of view of women. Obviously they have mothers, wives, and daughters. But as I pointed out in my last post, most of these people are well off financially and thus probably don't have to experience these things. So they go along unchallenged and feel they can get away with saying ridiculous things and supporting ridiculous policies.

The first title I had for this post was just "The GOP's women problem". But I didn't want to keep my full attention focused on them. Yeah, this is why Democrats get most of the women vote. And hopefully these comments will bring more women (and men) to our cause. But it's obvious that women suffer the most from the GOP's problem. And until more women are able to gain power within our gov't we will continue to get bad policy that hurts a lot of people.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Where are all the women in gov't?

David Bernstein says the GOP is institutionally sexist. Here is the data that he draws that conclusion from:
Ninety percent of Republican US Senators are men. Ninety percent of Republican members of the House of Representatives are men. Ninety percent of new Republicans elected to Congress are men. Almost every leadership position among congressional Republicans is held by men.

Eighty-five percent of Republican state senators are men. Eighty-two percent of Republican state house members are men. Among new Republicans elected to state legislatures, the numbers are closer to 90 percent. Of 60 state legislative chambers under Republican majority control, just three, or five percent, have a woman speaker or president.

Of the major statewide executive elected positions -- governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, and auditor -- there are a total of 14 Republican women currently holding office anywhere in the country.

In 435 congressional districts, Republicans will nominate in 2012 at most 51 women, or 12 percent. At best, 29 of those (including 21 incumbents) have any realistic chance of winning office -- that is, they are in districts not considered safe Democratic seats. By my count, it is nearly impossible for the 2013 freshman Republican class to comprise more than 10 percent women.

For Democrats -- who, I would argue, still have a long way to go in overcoming their own longstanding institutional sexism -- the equivalent numbers for all of the above are roughly double (or more) that of the GOP, and generally moving in the direction of gender parity rather than greater disparity.

Those numbers are a bit staggering when you consider that women make up about half of the population. If this isn't crystal clear evidence of at least the presence of sexism in previous generations I don't know what is. And while I'd say it's likely part of current sexism on the part of the GOP (less so with the Democratic party), I think it's more telling of those previous generations, at least when it comes to the national level.

Jonathan Bernstein (David's brother) keeps track of how old congress is, particularly the senate. It's pretty old. That's in large part because you need a lot of money and a lot of influence within the party to get nominated and to then win an election. In general, it takes a lot of time to gather money and influence. Thus older people are more prone to have those things. Due to sexism, women in those older generations that are currently in power had fewer opportunities than men to gain money and influence. So I think that's why you don't see many women in those positions.

On state levels and in places where it's less about money and party influence I think it's more a result of direct, current sexism. Part of the problem with the GOP is simply their hostility towards women via their policy preferences. That's probably the big reason women tend to vote for Democrats in pretty solid numbers. Because of that they just have no reason to get involved and run for offices in the GOP.

I'm not sure how you'd make it work. But the more I think about this issue the more I'm willing to support a mandate or quota for a certain number of women in public office. Women have been held back for so long that it has created very ingrained norms in our institutions, those that keep women out. And without their presence within those institutions the norms continue to be difficult to change.

You could argue that such a mandate is undemocratic. On it's face it is. But what is truly undemocratic (the better word is unrepresentative) is how poorly women are represented in this country and throughout the world. Reversing that trend would better serve democracy for everyone.

Random picture of the day

I irrationally like the movie that is from, which is "10 Things I Hate About You". It's not a bad movie for what it is. It's just not the most original movie. But as you can see, it's full of good actors. Ledger is magnetic in anything he's in. And Joseph Gordon Levitt is just so damn likable.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rick Perry invokes federalism on guns

I tweeted this link yesterday and said that I admired Rick Perry's adherence to state's rights in this instance, and also that I disagree with him regardless. Here is what he said:

PERRY: When it gets back to this issue of taking guns away from law abiding citizens and somehow know this will make our country safer, I don’t agree with that. I think most people in Texas don’t agree with that, and that is a state by state issue frankly that should be decided in the states and not again a rush to Washington, D.C. to centralize the decision making, and them to decide what is in the best interest for the citizens and the people of Florida and Texas. That’s for the people of these states to decide.

I decided to write a post on this because LGM (Lawyers,Guns,&Money) had this post today about the three immutable laws of American politics, which are:

1)Nobody cares about federalism. 2)No conservative Republican — Paul Ryan very much included — cares about the deficit. 3)Most mainstream pundits will call conservative Republicans who repeatedly support unfunded upper-class tax cuts and wars “deficit hawks” anyway.

I completely agree with that. But at first glance, Perry's statement seems to undermine the first law. I'm too lazy to look up whether Perry has contradicted his federalist claims. I'd bet he has and will contradict his claim sooner or later. But for now I'll give him a pass. So does Perry actually care about federalism? I don't think he does.

Notice how he specifically invokes his state of Texas. He knows that the people of Texas love their guns and wouldn't decide to limit their ability to own them. I think he says states should decide what to do with guns because he genuinely believes that most states wouldn't take away their own guns.

Actually, he says "the people" of states should decide. I think that's important. He has to know that there are Democratic politicians out there that would vote to take away or at least limit people's gun rights. This is usually why Republican's don't care about federalism. They know that some states would still allow abortion if it was unfederalized (trademarked). But Perry doesn't come to that conclusion here because I think he believes people would genuinely rise up against whatever politician tried to limit their gun rights.

It's either that or Perry just has the ability to say whatever he is thinking at that moment without contemplating the relationship that statement has with his previous statements and ideology. And given Perry's track record, I'd say that's a possibility. But if it's what I described, I think it sums up why nobody, particularly Republicans who claim to, cares about federalism. They know that their policy preferences wouldn't hold up across every state. And they don't like that. So they selectively decide when to care about federalism.

Whatever his reasons, I still give credit to Perry for saying what he did. I can't recall any other Republican invoking federalism when it comes to guns. That's such a big issue for them that I wouldn't think anyone would go that far. So kudos to Perry for having the guts.

Update: I decided to not be lazy and take 10 seconds to type "Rick Perry on federalism" into google. Here's Conor Friedersdorf on why we (or those of you who actually care about federalism) shouldn't trust Perry on the issue. I think the law holds.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Paul Ryan is Romney's VP pick

This pick tells me Romney is concerned about his credentials with the conservative base. That makes sense. You need to get your base out to vote. You can win over every single "swing vote" in the country and still lose if you don't get enough of your base support out.

Everyone else is going to give you the electoral ramifications that follow from this pick. I'll just say that in the end this probably won't matter that much. What I wanted to focus on is what this could mean down the road if Romney were to win the election. With Ryan as VP, I think this could mean a lot for Romney's legislative output. Most of that depends obviously on the structure of the House and Senate. Republicans will control the House. But it looks like Democrats may keep the Senate.

At worst Romney will probably have to work with a Republican House to send legislation to the Senate. I think this is significant because Paul Ryan is one of the leaders in the House. His budget is what Republicans tried to send to the Senate and Obama as their big response to Obama's election a few years earlier and their election in the midterms. So Ryan knows his way around the House and the House knows what Ryan is about.

With Ryan at the White House with Romney, I think it could be a hedge against Jimmy Carter-type battles that create gridlock and prevent legislation from getting passed. Aside from likely not creating friction between what congress and the president want to pass on a substantive front, this could also help them pass things quickly and capitalize on the so called honeymoon period after just being elected. This would put pressure on Democrats in the Senate to either accept gridlock by voting down legislation or to try and compromise in order to get things done.

If Republicans were to somehow take the Senate, it could mean that Romney and Republicans can try and match or surpass the rate at which Obama and Democrats passed legislation. That's important because Democrats took a lot of time to get the ACA drawn up and passed. And it could be argued that it cost them votes and popular opinion. It also very likely kept them from confronting other issues such as climate change.

Electorally I think the Ryan pick will be about a wash. It could help Romney secure his base. But it could also galvanize some independents and give liberals more to criticize Romney about. But if Romney were to win I think this pick could be significant in terms of actually governing. If this was a consideration of the Romney campaign then I give them credit for trying to think with some foresight. If it was purely about the election I it's probably not a bad pick.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It's not 1980 or 2012, it's always 1979

Greg Sargent explains why, contrary to what the Romney campaign thinks, the 2012 election is not exactly like the 1980 election. The reasons he presents all sound correct to me. But Greg says this at the end of his post:

But it’s interesting to ask why the Romney camp is spnning this scenario. I don’t know how heavily Romney and his advisers are banking on things unfolding this way, but the fact that they are telling folks this suggests they think they need a theory of the race that explains why they aren’t yet winning.

That's only partially why they are spinning this scenario. One reason is that I think the Romney campaign actually has a bit of a grasp on the history of presidential elections. And even though the 1980 election doesn't align with this one perfectly, there are some similarities. They understand that the election will be the big driver of this election's results, just like it was in 1980.

But the big reason the Romney campaign is pointing to the 1980 election and not any other election that the economy was very important in deciding (which is basically all of them) is that to Republicans, it's always 1979. I adopted that mantra, which Jonathan Bernstein created in order to explain conservative fears of inflation, in order to explain not just inflation fears, but huge areas of conservative thinking. Here's the post where I started it. Here's the mantra in action. And again.

Ok, it doesn't work perfectly in this case. But the basic idea holds, which is that Republicans pick this time to fixate on because it was when things were really bad for liberals and their conservative savior was about to swoop in and save the day, bringing back America to it's rightful spot atop of the world. They have so completely internalized the events of that time and the success of Reagan subsequent to those events that they are always searching for a recreation of that glorious time.

As the Reagan biographer that Sargent quotes says, Romney is no Reagan. I think that's also the point that conservatives won't admit. They cling to the it's alwasy 1979 thinking because deep down they know they don't have another Reagan. It's kind of like when liberals get frustrated with Obama and invoke LBJ or FDR. They long for a time when their policies were passed and glory ensued. But as liberals are finding out now, things have changed so much that those moments are much harder to come by. The 2012 election could be one of those moments for conservatives for reasons Matt Yglesias explained. So why not engage in some wishful thinking which posits that this election is just 1980 all over again?

Framing and the rights we prioritize

Updated again to give you some stats on what you are actually more likely to be harmed from other than a terrorist attack. Updated at the end.

I tweeted a Conor Friedersdorf post yesterday in which he tries to explain why the Sikh Temple shooting hasn't gotten the same level of cover the Aurora shooting did. I didn't post anything about it here because I thought Conor said all that needed to be said. In relation to that issue, I wanted to flag this post by Steve Coll discussing the Sikh Temple event amongst the larger issue of terrorism and violence in our country.

The Oak Creek murders reflect upon another neglected subject: the surprising pattern of terrorism in America since September 11th. In partnership with a team of researchers at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Public Policy, some of my colleagues at the New America Foundation collated and analyzed three hundred and two cases of domestic terrorism during the decade after the September 11th attacks. The numbers do not correspond with the public’s fear or understanding.

The entire decade-long domestic death toll from terrorism (that is, where a political or ideological motive was apparent) was thirty. By comparison, the rate of annual deaths from mass shootings by non-ideological deranged killers—such as the gunman who attacked moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado, last month—runs more than thirty times higher (on average, about a hundred deaths each year). In all, there are about fifteen thousand murders in America each year.

Of the three hundred domestic-terrorism cases studied, about a quarter arose from anti-government extremists, white supremacists, or terrorists animated by bias against another religion. And all of the most frightening cases—involving chemical, biological, and radiological materials—arose from right-wing extremists or anarchists. None arose from Islamist militancy.

In response to the terrible events of 9/11, the gov't has started two wars, spied on Americans without warrants, arrested, detained, and tortured Americans without due process, and now kills Americans without due process. We continue these policies that take away our rights despite the numbers cited above. Yet we do basically nothing to deter the kinds of shootings that kill far many more people.

Half the country screams bloody murder at the thought of limiting their right to have guns. While that same half of the country gleefully gives away their rights because they fear a bunch of brown people. And the rest of the country turns a blind eye to gross violation of rights their own party has enforced (killing citizens without due process).

Part of it is what Conor describes in his post. That most certainly describes the difference in media coverage between the Sikh Temple and Aurora shootings. But on a more general level, I think people's reaction to violence is affected by the way in which it's framed. 9/11 was massive in scale. Columbine, OKC, and Aurora were fairly large in scale. Acts of violence on those scales are rare, which is why the media covers them so aggressively.

Whereas the typical shooting is much smaller in scale, involving one or a few people. As the numbers show, those types of situations are pretty common in this country. And the media just doesn't cover common stories aggressively. I think they don't do so because the public tunes out such common stories.

If the aggregate number of people who were killed by guns in a year in the US were all killed on the same day or within a small frame of time I think people would react much differently. They would better understand the scale and impact gun violence has on people and the country and would probably be more willing to restrict rights for the sake of security, just as they do with 'terrorism'.

Update: Check out this link that shows the probabilities that you will be harmed by certain events. Basically, there's a lot more dangerous stuff out there than terrorists.

Update: Here's a funny list of differences between white terrorists and other terrorists from Juan Cole:

1. White terrorists are called “gunmen.” What does that even mean? A person with a gun? Wouldn’t that be, like, everyone in the US? Other terrorists are called, like, “terrorists.”

2. White terrorists are “troubled loners.” Other terrorists are always suspected of being part of a global plot, even when they are obviously troubled loners.

3. Doing a study on the danger of white terrorists at the Department of Homeland Security will get you sidelined by angry white Congressmen. Doing studies on other kinds of terrorists is a guaranteed promotion.

4. The family of a white terrorist is interviewed, weeping as they wonder where he went wrong. The families of other terrorists are almost never interviewed.

5. White terrorists are part of a “fringe.” Other terrorists are apparently mainstream.

6. White terrorists are random events, like tornadoes. Other terrorists are long-running conspiracies.

7. White terrorists are never called “white.” But other terrorists are given ethnic affiliations.

8. Nobody thinks white terrorists are typical of white people. But other terrorists are considered paragons of their societies.

9. White terrorists are alcoholics, addicts or mentally ill. Other terrorists are apparently clean-living and perfectly sane.

10. There is nothing you can do about white terrorists. Gun control won’t stop them. No policy you could make, no government program, could possibly have an impact on them. But hundreds of billions of dollars must be spent on police and on the Department of Defense, and on TSA, which must virtually strip search 60 million people a year, to deal with other terrorists.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

More The Dark Knight Rises thoughts

There isn't a lot of political stuff I find interesting at the moment. Rep. Steve King has shut the fuck for a few days. And I find the whole Romney/Reid tax returns thing ridiculous. So I figured I'd post some more on The Dark Knight Rises, which I've seen four times and still love.

The best critique I've heard is from people who have a problem with Nolan's directing style, which they claim is a problem across his entire career. And it manifests itself in TDKR in it being so dense with plot and cut with so many scenes that it gives the appearance of being both long and messy. Basically, they think Nolan doesn't let the camera linger enough and doesn't transition between scenes effectively. In TDKR, they think it was cut together too much and in a way that could be confusing and ineffective in driving home the themes.

As I've said, I had no problems following the plot. And I've enjoyed all of Nolan's films, both visually and plot-wise. So as a personal preference I don't really have a problem with Nolan's directing style. I quite enjoy it. But unlike with some people's specific problems with the plot, I can kind of see the merit of this criticism. And I think the issue they are talking about is why I had to watch both TDK and TDKR a second time to form a firm opinion about the film. After seeing TDK, the only thing I knew was that Ledger was incredible. And after seeing TDKR the only thing I knew was that I loved the ending.

Perhaps I couldn't form a coherent opinion about the movie as a whole because Nolan's direction isn't the most coherent style, at least upon first viewing. Indeed, I think Nolan would acknowledge this himself, at least with movies like Inception and The Prestige. His Batman films are more straightforward than his other films. But they are still packed with a lot of scenes and a lot of plot. So while this could be a personal preference type thing that may not have a answer, I'd encourage people to watch the movie a second time. I think you'll get a better sense of what Nolan is trying to do.

I wrote this post back in December of last year about the idea of having Robin in TDKR. Here's what I said about the idea:

If Nolan were to include Robin in TDKR I don't think it will be in an explicit manner. Meaning, I don't think we will see a young man in red and yellow tights fighting alongside Batman. If we do see Robin, I think it will be him as just another young man who happens to come into contact with Batman or one of the villains in some manner. And I think the most that will be mentioned of him is something in passing, kind of like how Fox mentioned cats when talking about the new armor in TDK.

Or another way I can see it is him being part of that group of guys who dressed as Batman early in TDK to try and help the real Batman, those guys in the hockey pads. Perhaps they make another appearance and instead of sucking one of them is really good at fighting the bad guys. And perhaps Batman takes notice and says something like, "Not bad kid. Maybe you should be my sidekick." after the young man takes out a villain before Batman can get to him.

I wasn't too terribly far off. I'm glad Nolan decided to put Robin in the film. I thought it worked perfectly. And listening to people familiar with Robin in the comics, it seems like Nolan kind of mashed together the three main Robins in order to make John Blake. My take was that Blake was kind of being Robin throughout the whole movie.

He was a cop who had a past that mirrored Bruce Wayne's, one that gave him that same drive to enact justice on Gotham's criminals. He used his natural detective skills throughout the movie, to figure out who Batman is and to figure out what Bane was doing with the cement. And he had the will to act. He wasn't afraid to stand up to Bane's men. So in the last scene when he rises up on Batman's platform he is literally becoming Batman.

Just like Batman began when he jumped off the building in Batman Begins and Batman became the Dark Knight when he took the fall for Dent and rode off into the night in TDK, the Dark Knight rose again when Blake/Robin stepped onto that platform.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rep. Steve King doubles down

This guy is unreal:

In explaining himself, King argues that animals have more rights than fetuses, and suggests that liberals have so devalued life, that a man can rape a young girl, kidnap her, force her to undergo an abortion across state lines, and then “drop her off at the swingset….and that’s not against the law in the United States of America.”

I know Republicans like King don't live in reality. But those things simply aren't legal in the reality the rest of us live in. And again, he doesn't seem to understand the idea of coercion. Leaving aside the creepy scenario he paints, I think King actually comes out looking worse here than he did with his original defense of dogfighting.

He at least admits that he has broken up a dog fight, presumably because it was at a point where it was immoral. He'll break up a dog fight, but he won't allow a woman who has been raped to make a decision about her own body and get an abortion. What a great respect for human life.

There's more going on here, such as the idea that a life maintains value once it's outside the womb of a woman. But not knowing about that idea or just not caring about it is nothing new to a Republican. And there are other instances in which I'm sure King doesn't give a shit about a human life. But the main point here is that King basically thinks a woman's right to control her own body is a right about on par with that of animals' rights.

As a liberal, I guess I'm just too concerned about making sure poor people are dependent upon gov't handouts to understand King's logic for valuing human life properly.