21st Century Conservatism

I am a first a fiscal conservative and secondly a social conservative ... both are clearly moral in nature with the fiscal spin just a bit more identifiable. I read the following last week in one of the daily papers:

"The White House now says it will need another $80 billion in extra funding, most of it for Iraq. The new spending would make this year's federal budget deficit $427 billion, the largest in history."

I find it interesting that, in some sense, all issues are fiscal because it takes money to do about anything. It takes money to fund social programs, to wage a war, to support Tsunami victims, to rebuild a foreign nation - you get the idea. I think there are two issues that arise when we start to talk about money. The first is where the money is spent and the second is whether (and how much) we go into debt to pay the bills. I think that we must determine the second before we deal with the first - and this is where the rubber meets the road.

For every expenditure we must ask the difficult question "Is it worth going in debt for?" Once we have asked that question then we will have a better handle on how we should spend our money. This is where I see our nation falling short. Even those who advocate a strong conservative view seem to be for spending money we don't have - things that we have to go into national debt for. These same conservatives criticize 'liberals' who see tax cuts as revenue short falls. It is like these 21st Century Conservatives want to cut our national income but not our national expenditures.

I think that our country can do much better than a $427 billion federal deficit ... but it will take courageous leadership to do it!

The Aviator and The Phantom | ★★★★★★★★★

I saw the 'The Aviator', the Howard Hughes bio-pic, this weekend and was impressed with Leonardo DiCaprio's excellent portrayal of the lead character. Hughes was portrayed with a wonderful sensitivity. In him we saw a brilliance of mind while at the same time a darkness of soul - as high as he soared with ambition, intelligence and entrepreneurship ... he sunk low in sexual debauchery and weirdness. There is a wonderful interchange with an older wealthy woman where Hughes tells her that money doesn't mean anything to her because she has always had it ... and I add - never worked for it. Another great line is where he tells a movie star that she is 'only an actress'. Both of these interchanges reveal Hughes' understanding of societal priorities ... those who contribute to society help society rather than feed off it.

The Hughes role is somewhat similar to the lead character in 'The Phantom of the Opera', another recent movie. Each character is somewhat of a dark genius ... each draws us into the darkness only to surprise us with their vulnerability ... each very strong but very weak ... both simple yet complex. I recommend both The Aviator and The Phantom of the Opera to those of you who, like me, enjoy movies with complex characters and great scripts.

See my other blog for more on the phantom. On a scale of ten I give both movies ★★★★★★★★★.

Not another movie critic

I have decided that there is just not enough movie buzz on the web so I am adding my totally unbiased input to the world of movie critique. You know I really do enjoy movies - especially a good action movie or comedy ... what guy doesn't. Mostly I want to be entertained but some times a movie will surprise me and I find myself unexpectedly reacting to the story, a character or the music.

I just saw Phantom of the Opera. The music moves me every time I hear it. Music can really draw you into a story - can really tug on your heart like nothing else. Who can ever forget 'Climb Every Mountain' from The Sound of Music (as well as just about every other song from it) ... or 'Money' from Cabaret ... or 'My Heart Will Go On' from Titanic. Oscar doesn't have a Best Song category for nothing.

Another thing that I like in a movie is character development. In Rainman I loved the way Charlie Babbit changed as he go to know his older brother Raymond ... it moved me to see love change him so much. I so appreciate a script where a character is confronted with new information or impossible circumstances and changes for the better. We all loved to see how everyone helped George Bailey at the end of It's A Wonderful Life - it lifted our spirits.

Have you ever been really surprised by a movie? I remember about 10 years ago watching Beauty and the Beast with my daughter - it shocked me how I was drawn into the story and moved by the music ... after all it was JUST A CARTOON. Dances With Wolves made me cry - how could we have done that to our Native American friends ... it totally changed my view of the history of our westward expansion.

A story based in fact always impresses me - Antoine Fisher, The Hurricane, Shadowland and Chariots of Fire come to mind. As a believer in Christ I felt inspired when, in Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddel told his sister that he felt God's pleasure when he ran ... it was a moving moment. Another scene that sucked me in was when Jack (C. S. Lewis) embraced his stepson and grieved at the end of Shadowlands ... I had just lost my first wife to heart failure and wept uncontrollably ... movies can really move you!

I could wax on about action movies and comedies but am running out of steam ... maybe I'll do it later :)