Daily Archives: July 1, 2012

The Greatest Patriotic Films Ever: #4 The Postman

“You have a gift, Postman. I saw it back in Pineview. You’ve given us all back what we’d forgotten. You made Mrs. March feel like she could see again. You made Ford feel like he was part of the world. You give out Hope like it was candy in your pocket.”

I know what you’re thinking, The Postman? Really? And I know why you’re feeling that way. It was the first movie Costner did after Waterworld and just about the time you might have forgiven he came out with Message in a Bottle so the hell if you were going to go back and give anything else a shot. I understand completely. And that was the feeling I had when I first watched it but I had nothing better to do and was with family so I couldn’t very well just tell my family to go to hell I wasn’t about to watch what I was sure would be a piece of crap.

And then I watched it and found out it wasn’t crap. It was quite good in fact.

And then you ask, ‘if it’s so good why hasn’t it garnered any acclaim since it first came out?” And the answer is: because it is so patriotic, and you know how the intelligentsia loathes that.

So, while I would recommend you see the movie before I reveal the plot, for any valid discussion I have to go over the plot a little.

The movie follows The Postman, played by Kevin Costner. Yes the character is never actually given a name. This is intentional. A drifter in a post-apocalyptic future (actually its 2013…damn Obamacare is going to ruin everything faster than I thought…I’m sure it sounded semi-reasonable in in1997). The first part of the film introduces us to this world where an army of thuggish marauders, called the Holnists, terrorize and control much of the Pacific Northwest. The Postman is at first captured and impressed into their fascist army, but escapes…and in his escape he finds a crashed US Post Office truck, fully loaded with a bag of mail and the skeleton of a dead postal official (still wearing his uniform). He takes the uniform and mail bag and concocts a story that the US government has been restored back East and he is a federal employee of the Restored United States, hoping this story will get him something to eat from every town he passes. What he doesn’t realize is what news of a Restored United States does to a population that has had all hope ripped away from them. Within only months he soon has his own army of mostly young men and women following him, carrying the mail all over Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Hope returns, people start fighting back…and with his band of very disgruntled postal workers they defeat the Holnist army and turn The Postman’s lie of a restored government into a reality.

So what makes this post-apocalyptic film, a film that shows the United States reduced to rubble, that states the White House had been burned to the ground, a patriotic film?

First it clearly points out what America isn’t. About halfway through the leader of the Holnist army, the psychotic and utterly taken with himself General Bethlehem, gives a speech on what he thinks made America great:

“We had a great nation once. You know what made it great? I can. Till the weak came along, the ‘I Can’ts” destroyed us. But I’m going to make us strong again. I’m going to be the father of a new nation. And do you know why it will be me? Because I can.”

The point here is to show exactly why this wasn’t what made America great. Any bully or tyrant can say “Yes, I can” any mindless mob can say “Yes, we can” but might doesn’t make right. America is great not because of brute strength but because we stand for ideals instead of might, we stand for ethics instead of the club, because the American ideal is “I should” not “I can.” America is great because we look at the greatest obstacles and say “I will” and look to the future instead of the mere tyrant who says “I can” as their only justification. Only tyrants and bullies speak of “I can”…the moral is the best in America speak of “I should.” And this is shown in the film, The Postman is offered a lot of things he “can” do, but it is the fact that in the end he chooses what he “should” do that makes him the emblem of America that he is meant to be.

The next is the very nature of democracy is shown in this film. Power coming from the people is the natural state of governments and it is antithetical to tyranny. After capturing a postal carrier and reading through the mail, Bethlehem’s men dismisses it as “Births and deaths, the weather, gossip. There’s nothing here.” Bethlehem recognizes the threat of people banding together to agasinst his little feudal rule. “Nothing? Everything is here. Am, I the only one who sees that?” People banding together is the greatest threat to tyranny. Always has been, always will be (the next most dangerous is an armed populace). (Granted people banded together can just as easily fall from one tyranny to another, see the Russian Revolution or the Arab Spring, but it always spells a short reign for the current dictator). This is why tyrannies spend so much time and money to control all forms of information, when people begin to associate and talk without government control, not much can stand in the way of the storm that is to come from their banding together. George III found this out, and this is why one of the first things the Continental Congress did after declaring independence is establish a postal system. Communication is essential for liberty and it is antithetical to slavery.

This movie is also patriotic in what it shows the United States, just as a concept is. It is a beacon of hope. Just the words “Restored United States” encourages people to stand up and resist their oppressors, it makes them believe in the future which they had stopped doing. Some of the more cynical are even afraid of what this hope means,

“These people don’t need dreams, Mr. Postman. They need something real. They need help with the goddamn Holnists. Are you going to bring them that?”

But the film does a great job at showing that it is this hope and this ability to believe that the future is worth fighting for is exactly what will give them the help they need. And the movie itself culminates in a personal battle between Bethlehem and the Postman and in a moment of attempting to gloat over his impending victory Bethlehem taunts the Postman with:

General Bethlehem: I know your problem. Do you know why you won’t fight? Because you have nothing to fight for! You don’t care about anything! You don’t value anything! You don’t believe in anything! That’s what makes me better!
The Postman: I believe in the United States.

The Postman immediately proceeds to beat Bethlehem to a bloody pulp. It helps when you believe in something real and something worth fighting for.

And one of the more overlooked parts of the film is a final reason why it shows film to be exceedingly patriotic.

The film ends with a speech given in 2043 by The Postman’s daughter at the commemoration of a statue to him.

“My father saw how fragile we are, how quickly we fell into the hands of tyranny. He saw that ordinary men could reach deep within themselves and find courage. He saw that if we began to communicate as a nation we could become strong again, united, but he never did see St. Rose. He said there was too much to be done. He’d made a promise. And in keeping it he traded one dream for another. With no regrets.”

And it is not only a speech that shows what America is capable of. The scene is not a post-apocalyptic wasteland just recovering. It is a healthy civilization. Prefabricated boats in a marina, factory made clothes on all the people gathered, cameras, electricity, mass media, a society that can spare the time and money to commission a giant bronze statue. It shows an America that can rise from its own ashes in a mere 30 years and recover all of it past glory in only a generation. And this is an accurate depiction of America. Time and time again we have endured depressions, natural disasters, the hell of war, and whatever else the world can throw at us. And each time we come back, stronger, more resilient, and wiser. Name for me a nation that can not only do that once, but time and time again, other than America.

5 Comments

Filed under American Exceptionalism, Art, Conservative, Evils of Liberalism, Faith, Fear, Free Will, Government is useless, Individualism, Long Term Thinking, Movies, Movies for Conservatives, Obama, Patriotism, politics, Tyranny

The Greatest Nation On Earth…not according to “The Newsroom”

So apparently on the most recent HBO piece of trash (from the network that brings you Bill Maher’s constant trash) is a new show “The Newsroom” which thought it would be risky and daring and by saying the thing that liberals and their ilk have been saying since Jamestown was founded, that America is not the greatest nation.  Oooh…how gutsy of them.  Like I haven’t heard that one from liberals all my life.

But let’s take a look at what was actually said.

This seems like an impassioned but also well reasoned argument.  After all he has numbers!  It must be true.  Except that it’s not.

Let’s go over the specifics.

It’s NOT the greatest country in the world, Professor. That’s my answer.

[Debate Moderator]
You’re saying

[Will]
Yes.

[Debate Moderator]
Let’s talk about

[Will]
Fine. Sharon, the NEA is a loser. Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paycheck, but he gets to hit you with it anytime he wants. It doesn’t cost money. It costs votes. It costs airtime. And column inches. You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fuckin’ smart then how come they lose so goddamn always?

No I think that people hate liberals because at their worst, they are the greedy and corrupt that they claim to be against what they promote.  And at their best they are an ideology that advocates against liberty and for control by the government.

[Will (to Lewis]
And with a straight face, you’re gonna sit there and tell students that America is so star-spangled awesome that we’re the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom. Japan has freedom. The U.K. France. Italy. Germany. Spain. Australia. BELGIUM has freedom. (laughs) Two hundred and seven sovereign states in the world, like, a hundred and eighty of them have freedom.

Okay, let’s deal with his list.  We are the first nation founded specifically on liberty.  And yes we are currently not doing a great job of liberty, but we are still one of the freest nations on Earth. And this screed is wrong.  Of all the countries he lists only Canada ranks above the U.S. in economic freedom  and keep in mind that Canada has so little respect for free speech you can be fined for saying true things about Muslims— oh yeah, that’s really free.  And actually it’s around 184 sovereign states, 5 of them are free another 23 are mostly free, another 62 are moderately free.  So only about 90 are moderately free or better.  (And what qualifies as moderately free is pretty sad.  It’s closer to only 28 of the 184 are even mostly free).

 [Will]
And you, Sorority Girl, just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there’s some things you should know. One of them is there’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world.

We’re seventh in literacy.

We’re actually 10th, but that might be because we allow some liberty in our nation and not force people into government run propaganda mills at the point of a gun (Unlike some of the countries that beat us out like Cuba)…also our literacy rate is 99% literate…hmmm.  Yeah we’re doing really bad at literacy.  99% of our citizens can read.  Really failed there.

 Twenty-seventh in math. Twenty-second in science.

Well there are two problems here.  Most of these statistics on comparing national scores are often off.  Most countries do not main stream their special education students and test them, we do which drags our scores down.  Further most of those nations place their students in tracks, and only test their best and brightest, again comparing that to our tests of everyone.  Hell I’m not surprised that we don’t do worse on standardized tests.  However, you’ll notice that these scores mean that students do well on standardized tests..and the people in those countries notice that too…and they want more of what we have, free thinkers, creativity, innovation () none which comes from doing well on standardized tests.  A better way to judge American understanding of science and technology is to look at patent applications and grants. The U.S. leads in total number of patents (i.e. The U.S. has more patents than ALL other nations combined…and only during the Obama years have ALL other nations combined out done us…I expect we’ll go back to being the leader once the idiot is out).  We may not do the best on standardized tests for a myriad of reasons, but our education system for all its flaws still produces more creators, more leaders, more free thinkers and innovators than anyone.

Forty-ninth in life expectancy. A hundred and seventy-eighth in infant mortality.

Now this is also another misleading statistic.  Only a fool would say that there is not a genetic component to both of these numbers.  When you correct for life expectancy or infant mortality by ethnicity we’re on par with the top nations, and what we are off would be considered statistically negligible.  Yes our diversity is a strength, but just coming to America doesn’t change how genetics affect health, which they do.

As for infant mortality.  It might be because we count all births a live births.  Most other nations do not count children born under a certain weight as a live birth.  (Guess which group tend to die a lot?) So if we’re counting the one who make up the majority of that infant mortality rate and other nations do not, shocker that we don’t come in first place.

Third in median household income. Number four in labor force and number four in exports.

That’s a bad thing?

And when you take all of these together, it’s never the same countries ahead of us in any of these lists, when you consider the whole picture, it is America that is consistently at the top of every list across the board.

 

 We lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita,

Okay, I’ll grant you that. Of course part of this is because the people who should be behind bars are the ones running the nation, given the high number of genocidal butcher in China, Afghanistan, Iran or Syria, if the people who deserved to be in jail were, then we wouldn’t be leading this list. It’s also a side effect of not making just about every crime be a death penalty case, as with some nations, you have to house the people you don’t kill in droves? Are we number one, if you counted “re-education camps” and “concentration camps”as prisons?  I know we’re not number one in those categories.

number of adults who believe angels are real,

Wow, since when did religious faith become a fault?  First, angels are real.  Second, thank you liberals for once again insulting anyone who dares believe in anything bigger than the government.  Contrary to your petty beliefs, faith is a virtue not a weakness.

and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies.

Again none of these are a problem.  And all classical liberals/constitution understand that defense is the only reason for government – individuals take care of other issues.

Now none of this is the fault of a twenty-year-old college student, but you nonetheless are without a doubt a member of the worst, period, generation, period, ever, period.

No the worst. Generation. Ever. Would be the baby boomers, a bunch of whiners who have demanded everything been given to them and then left their children with the bill.  If the current generation has problems it’s because they were raised by whining children who never grew up.  The worst generation is the one that bitches about how not great America is and yet has never done anything to improve it…you know the generation the speaker of this worthless diatribe from this worthless show is a part of.

So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I dunno what the fuck you’re talkin’ about. Yosemite?

How about the fact that we’re the most charitable nation on Earth. 

We’re number one in legal immigrants…if we’re such a terrible place, why does everyone come here? 

If we’re not number #1, then I promise you that we’re still near the top in terms of economic mobility, and we will return to #1 in the coming years.

We have shed more blood to free other peoples and other nations from slavery and tyranny.

We are the ONLY nation founded on an ideal.

Sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws, for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people.”

Really “The Great Society” is what he lists as our great moment.  Odd that the war on poverty is what killed the growth of the middle class and thus did wage a war on poor people that he touts as our high point. In the long run we usually always stand for what is right and moral but often not our first step.  We still pass laws and ignore others but no longer for moral reasons…but that would often be because of people like Harry Reid who prevent laws from coming up for a vote…I’m sure he’s a favorite among the makers of “The Newsroom.”

 

 “We sacrificed. We cared about our neighbors. We put our money where our mouths were. And we never beat our chest.”

We still do the first three…we’ve always beat our chests, just look at history.

“We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars. Acted like men.”

His use of the past tense is correct.  But the present and the future tenses are also correct…he incorrectly seems to suggest that they aren’t.

We aspired to intelligence. We didn’t belittle it—it didn’t make us feel inferior.

We still aspire to intelligence.  I don’t know what he means about belittling it, unless he means our distain for Ivory Tower idiocy, which we’ve always had.

We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t, oh, we didn’t scare so easy. Ha. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men. Men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.

No the problem is that we’ve hit a downturn…but we are still the greatest nation, we still have our virtues, we just need to remember them and use them.   And again this guy doesn’t know much history.  People have always identified themselves by how they voted (or did you miss how vicious the Adams/Jefferson political wars were?).

The writer for this idiotic speech seems to think that we were only great when we were under FDR and LBJ letting the world and our own nation fall apart, but saying we cared about people.  And they revel when we hit low points like we have now.  The problem is that this is not our lowest low point, and even if it was there is something about America…something that refuses to die for too long.  There is something of the Phoenix in our nature—we may fall and die, but each time we arise from the ashes of our self immolation stronger and more alive than before.  The future will be no different from the past, and we will remain the greatest nation on Earth.

(Personally I think Daniels was hoping to use this for his audition for Dumb and Dumber 2).

7 Comments

Filed under American Exceptionalism, Evils of Liberalism, Patriotism, People Are Stupid, politics