Movies, movers and moods

Friday, November 21, 2003

I haven't seen "Secondhand Lions," but I will, especially after reading these extracts from a review of the movie which stars Michael Caine, Robert Duvall and Haley Joel Osment as the young nephew:

In a "what every boy needs to know about being a man" speech, Duvall tells Osment that honor, virtue and courage mean everything.

Walter (Osment) finds himself desperate to hear the speech. Uncle Hub (Duvall) would eventually tell Walter, "Honor, virtue, and courage mean everything, that money and power mean nothing. That good always triumphs over evil. That true love never dies. Doesn't matter if they're true or not. A man should believe in those things anyway. Because they are the things worth believing in."

Although there is swashbuckling action and heart-rending romance, "Secondhand Lions" is primarily about the tremendous need for boys to have strong male role models and the devastation of fatherlessness. Filled with guns, a lion, a pig and a stunt plane, it is an unapologetically male movie -- one that will have the men smiling, the women tearing up and everyone laughing.

Without being preachy or maudlin, Walter is shown what it means to be a man from his wacky uncles who are rhinos on the outsides and teddy bears on the inside. He would never be the man he would eventually become without the influence and tutelage of these eccentric old men.

Secondhand Lions is the humorous genius of writer-director Tim McCanlies, who also wrote the celebrated animated film "The Iron Giant." Growing up in a military family with a father who was gone most of the time, McCanlies says that he turned to books and films to mentor him. In a sense, McCanlies hopes that young men seeing the film will walk away with a message in the midst of the action. And what should that message be?

"You should have your own sense of honor ... even if you are in an immoral world, even if people all around you are succeeding because of cutting corners and cheating on their income taxes and screwing over their neighbors -- you shouldn't," McCanlies replies. -- Steve Beard, Good News

Jack Oliver of Cape Girardeau is the national finance vice chairman of the George Bush re-election campaign. His goal is to raise $180 million dollars, of which about $90 million has already been raised, exceeding the last campaign's total goal.

If that sounds like a lot -- and it is -- it's more than matched by the estimated $450 million expected to be raised and spent by fund-raising committees whose money benefits Democrats and whose donors' contributions are not limited to $2,000 each per cycle (to be fully reported) but can be unlimited and camouflaged as to source.

These include labor unions, the Center for American Progress-America Coming Together, Emily's Fund, pro-abortion groups, trial attorneys, teachers unions, environmentalists and gun-control groups. I'm sure a number of groups with opposing views will be supporting Bush as well. It's gotten out of hand. And the current campaign law does little to curtail the money being donated or spent.

Full disclosure of all of the donations on the Internet with watchful monitoring by the opponents and the media will be as good as it's going to get.

Go door-to-door, one year before: On Nov. 8, the Missouri Democratic Party sponsored the largest non-election year canvass this state has ever seen. Over 300 people woke up early on a Saturday morning, braved 35-degree temperature with overcast skies and knocked on over 25,000 doors across Missouri.

Who the judge is and where the court resides has become too often lately an indicator of the ruling to be made on too many issues -- not the law itself.

Sen. Bill Frist, the Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate, attempted to get an up-or-down vote on President Bush's judicial nominations. As you may know, Democrats in the Senate have held off votes on the president's nominees under a Senate rule that requires 60 votes instead of a simple majority to end a filibuster. This is contrary to the U.S. Constitution and an affront to the presidency.

Just think about the chilling effect the Democrats' statement is having on state judges. It is telling state judges that they will never be confirmed on the federal bench if they express conservative or business-oriented views.

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint." -- Isaiah 40:31

A bas la France: To judge by the mood in Paris these days, you'd think the French were more into self-flagellation than self-indulgence. That's thanks to a new best-seller called "La France Qui Tombe" ("France is Falling Down"), whose author excoriates his compatriots for allowing a "sclerotic" political class, in cahoots with unions and bureaucrats, to push La Republique into headlong decline. "The crisis," fumes the writer, a 42-year-old lawyer and technocrat named Nicolas Baverez, "isn't only economic, it's intellectual, moral, even spiritual, since it touches the deepest part of France's values and historic identity."

Baverez cites the ongoing brain drain: 265,000 of the nation's best and brightest decamped over the last decade. France's military is a joke -- 60 percent of its helicopters, 50 percent of the navy's ships and 75 percent of its light troop carriers don't work -- and its influence abroad is mostly impotent posturing. -- Forbes magazine

Tortuous no more: Districts in Texas occupy four of the top 11 spots on the American Tort Reform Association's list of "judicial hellholes," described as cities or counties that "attract lawsuits from around the nation or the region because they are correctly perceived as very plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions." The numbers tell the story. Texas is down to three medical liability insurers. Fourteen of 17 have disappeared in the past two years alone. In some parts of the state, there are 300 lawsuits for every 100 doctors. No matter that 85 percent of these suits fail. At $20,000-$40,000 a pop to put up a defense, doctors can't afford the sky-high insurance rates. Of the state's 254 counties, 154 have no obstetrician. Wide swaths of Texas have neither a neurosurgeon nor an orthopedic surgeon.

[Texas' recent tort reforms] not only provide an example for other states but also for Republicans in Congress. President Bush says he's serious about federal tort reform. His party could help by giving him some bills to sign. -- The Wall Street Journal

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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