Tagged: Batman

Martha Thomases: 4DX, Batman’s Religion, and Me

batmans-jewishIt’s a twofer this week, folks. I have two things that are obsessing me, neither of which really qualifies for a full column, but both are so interesting (to me, anyway) that I must opine.

Hey! There’s a new movie format!

It’s called 4DX, and it’s not a better picture or more frames per second or three dimensional. Instead, it involves seats that vibrate and sometimes move, fans that mimic wind, and sometimes water and aroma effects.

Apparently, this format has been around for a few months, but I only found out about it this past weekend. My friend Renee and I went to see The Magnificent Seven. When we got to the theater, we found out that the show we had planned to see was in this funky new format. It was going to be another 45 minutes before the next show in a normal theater. So, we paid the extra $8.00 (!!!) each, and decided to consider it an adventure.

It was hilarious.

It’s not as funny as Smell-o-Vision” or the John Waters movie Polyester, filmed in “Odorama.” In fact, there were no discernible smells, at least for this movie. Which is a good thing, because there were lots of horses and very few humans seemed to bathe very often.

Although a sweaty Denzel can come sit by me anytime.

Every time a person opened a door, there was a breeze. When horses galloped across a stream, a fine mist of water sprayed from the chair. Every time the camera moved, the seats moved with it. Every time a horse galloped on land, the seats vibrated.

I didn’t feel like I was part of the movie, but I did feel like I was at Walt Disney World. I was on an amusement park ride that lasted longer than the wait on line to get on.

This format was probably not designed for westerns. It was probably meant for super-hero movies, with lots of flying and explosions. I don’t think I will ever pay extra for it again, unless maybe they provide virtual reality goggles to go with it.

Batman’s Jewish?

In the last few issues of Batman and Detective comics, since Rebirth, it has been revealed that Kate (Batwoman) Kane’s mother is Martha Wayne’s sister. It was previously established that the Kane’s are Jewish. According to tradition, the child of a Jewish mother is Jewish.

(Aside: I don’t believe that, because I think one’s religion is a matter of what one believes and not one’s genetic make-up. This is why the Haredi don’t want me in Israel.)

I searched the Google, and no one seems to have said anything about this, at least not on the Internet. I suppose it’s possible I’m reading it wrong. I suppose it’s possible that this will be dealt with in future storylines. I suppose the Waynes might have been extremely closeted about their heritage, or that Thomas Wayne never told his parents that his wife was Hebrew. Maybe it’s a modern day Ivanhoe.

It might be December before we find out if there are menorahs in stately Wayne Manor.

Dennis O’Neil: Priorities


Hey, ja hear? Two Supergirl episodes tonight! ‘Course, I’ve seen ‘em all, but it’ll be a pleasure to see ‘em again. You too?

And hey. Looks like the Cardinals won’t make the playoffs this year. Darn shame, if you ask me. But there’s always next year. One’a these years, the birds’ll go the distance.

Huh? You said something about water?

Netflix has a new sitcom streaming. Maybe that’s why you mentioned “water,” ‘cause water streams just like sitcoms. Well, not exactly, but you know what I mean. Anyway, we’ll give the new sitcom a watch right after dinner. Well, maybe not right after dinner ‘cause Supergirl’ll be on from eight to ten and we won’t be missing a single second of that. It’s important to know what Netflix is up to, though not as important as Supergirl. That Melissa Benoit – is she an actress or what! But I don’t have to tell you that it’s important to know what Netflix is up to. Ja hear that they’re releasing a Luke Cage movie, to go with Daredevil and Jessica Jones? We’ll be turning off the phone that day! It’s important to know what Netflix is up to. Did I already say that?

Rain? Is that what you said? Like what kings do? That kind of rain?

And ja hear about Brad and Angie? Apparently they’re talking divorce. Wow, I’d sure hate to see that. A darn national tragedy, that’s what that would be. Seems like Brad got caught kissing Marion Cotillard – she was Talia in the last Batman flick, you remember. No, no, not the tall woman, the shorter one. The tall one was Anne Hathaway – how could you forget that? She was Catwoman. No, not Halle Berry Catwoman or Michelle Feiffer Catwoman, or those other ones…We’re talking the lovely Anne Hathaway, darn it.

“Run for office,” did you say? Like, an office is on wheels and it’s going downhill and you have to catch it?

Oh, politics. Yeah, politics can sure be fun. I can’t wait to see what those wacky ducks’ll do next. One said the other was a “poopy head,” or something like that. I heard it from my uncle and he I think he was eating something while we were talking, and, you know, he was hard to understand. It was a doughnut, maybe. Anyway, those politics’ll come up with something funny every time – you can take that straight to the bank, my friend.

There you go again, yakking about floods. So there were some floods in some of those states we don’t know about and in Louisiana they’re saying it’s the worst disaster since Hurricane Sandy? Houses lost. Dead people. Stuff like that’s too bad. But they’ll get over it.

Ja hear that Ben Affleck is the next Batman?

John Ostrander and His Good Guys

Suicide Squad War Crimes

Quick – who is the more interesting character, Superman or Batman? Batman, right? Supes is the Big Blue Boy Scout. He’s the quintessential “good guy.” He’s all bright colors and kid friendly. Batman is all dark and angsty. We could never be Superman with all those powers but, if we really worked hard at it, I mean if we had sufficient motivation and tons of money, we could be Batman.

That’s the common opinion. It’s not true, of course, but that’s the myth.

superman bulletWe always assume that Superman will do the right thing because, well, he’s Superman. That’s who he is. Doing the right thing, making the right choice just comes natural to him, like breathing. Good guys do the right thing. That’s what makes them good guys.

I’ve given a lot of interviews lately for the Suicide Squad Special: War Crimes that comes out this Wednesday and I’ve talked a lot about why I really enjoy writing bad guys, or at least anti-heroes. I find them more interesting, more complex. Take a look at my career – GrimJack, Amanda Waller, even Jim Corrigan a.k.a. the Spectre. They are all morally conflicted characters and only marginally “heroes” in that they are (usually) better than the people they oppose.


The flaw in this line of thought is that being “good” is something that comes naturally. That it’s not really a choice; it’s so basic to a character or a person that doing the right thing is something that s/he does automatically.


I usually find that isn’t the case especially when there is some kind of cost, big or small, connected with doing what’s “right.” Then it becomes a choice and what we choose is what ultimately defines us. Nobody – repeat, nobody – makes the right choice 100% of the time or the wrong choice every single time. Not the Pope, not your Aunt Petunia, not Donald Trump. That’s because the process of making that decision is usually a complex equation filled with lots of variables of different desires, needs, and thoughts. Perhaps there is one over-riding motivation but there will be lots of other factors looking to horn in, e.g. I want to lose weight, I need to lose weight, I need chocolate right now.

chocolate-cakeThere is also the question of what the right thing is – and who is it right for. Is it right for the country, is it in my own self-interests, is it the right thing at the moment and will that moment change and therefore change what is the right choice? What might be an easy choice for one person might be a difficult one for another with roughly the same choice. Who would you die for? Would they die for you?

This decision can take nano-seconds or the person making the choice can agonize a long time over it. If this is true of us, and I submit that it is, then it should be true of our characters. Habit can also play a large part in making these decisions; if you’re accustomed to making the choice confronting you in a certain way, you are more likely to choose that way again. But not always. No guarantees.

If Superman is to be a convincing character to us as a person, then he must also face these decisions, confront fears, deal with doubts. He should have conflicting desires. For all his powers and his alien origin, this is what makes him human.

That’s what we want from our stories – humans making (sometimes difficult) decisions. If Superman is facing death he must also want to live; that makes his choice mean something and that choice defines him as a hero.

John Ostrander Reviews the Suicide Squad!

suicide Squad world premiere

Warning! Danger! Spoilers! I saw the movie, I’m going to talk about the movie, there may be some plot spillage. Yadda yadda yadda.

John Ostrander DivaAs we start, I think you should know my biases. I think you should know any critics’ bias. Myself, I use them mostly as consumer reporters. If I find a critic whose tastes largely coincide with mine, I tend to trust them more. The late great Roger Ebert was one. Knowing who is giving you their opinion is important; what does their opinion matter if you don’t trust them?

Regarding the Suicide Squad movie, well, I’m biased. I’m prejudiced. I have a vested interest in its success. I want it to succeed. However, if I didn’t like it, I’d be more likely just to keep my trap shut.

My trap is open.

I really liked the film. Not perfect by a long shot, but a really good time in the movie theater. And for me a lot of it was just amazing. The look, the detail, the feel of the film is not something I’ve seen in superhero movies before.

Chief for me were the performances, starting with Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. All the other characters in the Squad, both the comic and the movie, were created by others. In the comic especially I would re-define and expand on them but they were established characters. Amanda Waller was my creation and Viola Davis embodied her to perfection. I was happy when she was cast, I was delighted when I saw her in the trailers, and I was ecstatic when I saw her in the film. Davis has Amanda’s voice, her look, and her attitude. I was delighted at the after-party when I got a chance to see her face-to-face and tell her how much I enjoyed her performance.

Next up is Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. She is sexy, innocent, funny, lethal, crazy and dangerous. And she’s a thief – she steals just about every scene she’s in.

Let’s look at Will Smith as Deadshot. Some folks have objected that he’s not my Deadshot. No, he isn’t and that’s just fine by me. My Deadshot was not the character as he had been created or portrayed prior to my appropriating him for the Squad. Gail Simone’s version was not exactly my version either. You don’t expect two actors who play the same character in different versions to be identical so why expect those versions in different stories to be identical? Smith did a great job – intense, cynical, with a weak spot for his daughter (although I thought their last scene together had a disturbing element). Smith is a fine actor and one of the world’s biggest stars; he sure as hell wasn’t slumming here and he made Deadshot his own – which is exactly what he was supposed to do.

Last paragraph, I talked about you wouldn’t expect two actors playing the same character in different stories to give identical performances. That really applies to Jared Leto as the Joker. He crafted an entirely new version of the character from the late Heath Ledger’s portrayal in The Dark Knight. That’s absolutely necessary and it’s a different look. Like Pygmalion, he creates a woman that he can love; in this case, it’s Harley Quinn. If we accept his love for her (and her love for him) as genuine, does that make him less of a sociopath? Ledger’s Joker loved no one except, perhaps, Batman. He’s no less strange or deadly but his entire plotline revolves around being re-united with Harley.

Jay Hernandez has a significant role as Diablo and I would have liked to see more of the character. He has a terrific and horrifying back-story but this is a character who is trying to do good even as (I think) he believes he is beyond redemption.

Likewise, I would have liked to see more of Jai Courtney as Boomerang. As Christopher Walken says of cowbell, you can never have too much Boomerang. He’s very much as I wrote him in the Squad – he knows what he is and he likes it. In that respect, Boomerang is very well adjusted. Which is scary.

There’s a surprising theme running through the movie; there is a lot about love. Joker and Harley’s love, yes; Deadshot’s love for his daughter; Diablo’s love (and guilt and remorse) for his family; Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman)’s love for June Moone (Cara Delevingne) while June’s alter ego, the Enchantress, appears to love her brother. Katana (Karen Fukuhara) loves her dead husband and carries his soul in her blade (OK, a lot of the relationships are not the healthiest in this film). Even with Amanda there’s a brief phone call and there’s tenderness and love for whoever she’s speaking with. Love shapes and forms a lot of the characters and they, in turn, mold the story.

Are their problems with the film? Sure. The antagonist(s) are not well defined and, to my mind, you need a good antagonist to help define the protagonist(s). It’s the antagonist who usually sets the plot in motion and it is defined by what they want. The story is a little more generic “we have to save the world” than I usually did; I always liked having one foot squarely in reality.

I also liked having a political and/or social edge in my Squad stories. That would also give a greater feel of reality and I don’t see that here.

That said, my artistic DNA is all over the place. This is The Dirty Dozen with supervillains and that’s my concept. They did that and did it well.

I know some of the critics, both in print and online, do not like the movie. That’s okay; everyone has a right to their own opinion even when it’s wrong. My problem is that, at least with some of the media reviews, is that the critic is also tired of superhero and “tentpole” films and, overtly or covertly, would like to see their end. Look, I get it – they have to see all the films out there and they must be tired of all the blockbusters.

If every superhero film is not The Dark Knight, they’ll bitch. I think that’s going on here to a certain degree. Just as I came prepared to love the movie, they came prepared to hate it.

My late wife, Kim Yale, was a movie critic for a while for a small suburban newspaper in the Chicago area and I went with her to some of the movie screenings. Don’t tell me that some of the critics didn’t come with pre-conceived attitudes to some films. I know better. I saw and heard it.

As for some of the online haters – if a film doesn’t fit their pre-conceived notion, it is wrong. Female Ghostbusters, a black Deadshot, Ben Affleck as Batman (Affleck, by the way, does cameos as both Batman and Bruce Wayne in Suicide Squad and is terrific) – these are all sins and must be decried.

Give me a fucking break.

Look, you can be the most important critic on Suicide Squad. In this case, your voice is your money. You decide if you want to see the movie and then go. If you like it, tell others. I guess you could also tell them if you didn’t like it but you don’t have to. I won’t mind.

If the film is financially successful (and, from what I’ve seen as this review is being written, it’s on track for a pretty good opening weekend), then Warners will be encouraged to do a sequel. And I hope they do. They made a good film this time and I believe they’ll do it even better next time around.

It’s your call.Suicide Squad Times Square

Tweeks: Batman Killing Joke SDCC Interviews

Okay, first off — Warning! This Batman movie is not for kids! Batman: The Killing Joke is the first- R-Rated DC original animated movie ever. It’s based on the comic created by Alan Moore & is known for being particularly disturbing and dark. This is what sets up The Joker as the baddest villain in Gotham. You know how Batgirl ended up in a wheelchair and then became Oracle — well this is how she ended up paralyzed.

Batman: Killing Joke had it’s debut at Comic-Con and Maddy was there to interview the voice of Batman himself (Kevin Conroy), Ray Wise (yes! THAT Ray Wise!) who voices Commissioner Gordon, and writer Brian Azzarello (who not only adapted the one-shot to the script, but added additional material to the story to give Barbara Gordon a story arc).

Dennis O’Neil: The Sound of the Bat


I was on my way to meet the voice of Batman when I lost my mirror. I’m pretty sure the culprit was from New Jersey and so I’d like to blame Chris Christie but the Jersey governor really had nothing to do with it. Maybe next time.

We were in Manhattan, on busy 34th Street, in the midst of dense crosstown traffic creeping along, barely moving. Suddenly something struck the car, only about a foot from the driver’s head. Since I was that driver, the matter was of some concern to me. What had happened was, a truck had inched into my lane and hit my driver’s side mirror and there I was, looking injured and forlorn, and there, too, was the truck driver, a youngish dude in work clothes, blaming me. If you know me, you know that refusing to cop to a fault is not in my catalogue of questionable behavior, so believe me when I tell you that I am pretty damn sure that it was not my fault, thank you very much, but the east bound lane of a street rife with vehicles in the middle of the afternoon didn’t seem like a good venue for a debate and anyway, he was back in his truck pretty quickly, creeping east, so I would have been debating his tail pipe and, finally, going a distance to avoid any sort of confrontation is in my catalogue of questionable behavior. (Is writing very long sentences questionable behavior? You decide.) I got out and briefly inspected the damage.

I got back behind the wheel and saw a parking lot a block away. We weren’t late, not yet, but we were getting close, but the parking lot could be our friend in need. Just zip in there, grab a ticket and hurry to my destination. Then a police officer came from the curb and knocked on my window. I rolled it down and started to explain the broken mirror. But the mirror wasn’t the problem; intent on getting to the parking lot

I had forgotten to rebuckle my seat belt. That omission was going to cost me the better part of a benjamiin. And I remembered some of the reasons I no longer lived in Manhattan.

But we finally reached our destination, a recording studio, and I finally met Batman… well, actually, Batman’s voice. Kevin Conroy has been doing the voice work for the various animated versions of Batman for almost 25 years, so yes, I’d certainly heard him, but I’d never seen him. Soon, I was sitting next to him in a sound booth, both of us wearing microphones, watching an animated movie on a monitor and talking about it. No script, no rehearsal, just looking at the flick and commenting on what we saw. When the movie was released on DVD, what Kevin and I said would be an optional soundtrack. Strange gig. But a nice one. Kevin was pleasant and friendly and so were the techie guys. I’d do it again in a hot second, though I might ask to negotiate the broken mirror. I could live without attention from the officer, too.

PS: The Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times dated July 31 had a nice story about Kevin Conroy and Batman, which is where I got the idea for what you’ve just read. Maybe there’s some way you could check it out?


Molly Jackson: Editing Strength!



I’ve beaten back the technological revolt happening in my apartment! It’s a time for celebration and joy. So two days ago, I saw the Batman Vs. Superman Ultimate Edition at a special event in theaters. On purpose. Seriously.

Batman v Superman BRI purposefully dragged my fellow ComicMix columnist Joe Corallo because I couldn’t suffer through it a second time alone. For the record, he agreed to go and then was confused as to why he agreed. Also, I purposefully did not tell Mike, our fearless editor, that we were doing this since he tried to talk us out of seeing it the first go-around. (I only wish I could see his face when he reads this.)

A little backstory, I hated it the first time. I remember stumbling out of the theater wondering how the studio executives could have let that happen. How? Why?! Still, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I wanted to see it again. Perhaps to reconcile the movie in my mind.

I feel obligated to say spoiler alert. So hey, if you keep reading, you may be spoiled on the Ultimate Edition. Just sayin’.

After the first time around, I remember thinking that script and direction were the biggest issues with the film. That hasn’t changed much but I did discover a bigger issue was editing the film. The first release cut out parts that made the film coherent. Whole explanations were removed, which contributed to a lot of the complaints. You don’t have to guess as much at the characters’ motivations or decision making. Some, but not all, plot holes are closed and the scene transitions are better for it.

About those critical scenes. There was a naked Bruce taking a shower. There were a few scenes showing Clark investigating Batman and his actions against the people of Gotham. He talked with mom and Bruce had a really nice extra few lines with Alfred (who also chops wood, because…). Those really helped flesh out small parts of the film, adding connections to disjointed scenes. Now, from what I remembered from the original release, it appeared that the most significant extra (a.k.a. deleted) scenes were female-led storylines.

I wish I was surprised, but I’m not. Why should companies focus on Lois Lane being a fearless investigator when Batman can have an extra-long fight scene with a truck? She spends a whole story arc to find the pathway to Lex’s maneuverings. We watch Lois push back against Perry White and Clark Kent in her desire to find the truth. She works with lab tech Jenet Klyburn (as played by Jena Malone in her unreleased role) to realize the metal bullet is experimental. She investigates the suicide bomber’s apartment, only to realize that he wasn’t planning on killing himself. And then she connects the pieces when she finds out from Jenet that the wheelchair was lined with lead. Look at the plot holes cleaned up with one paragraph.

The other storyline covered up was lead by Kahira Ziri, played by Wunmi Mosaku. Do you remember the woman who testified against Superman in the beginning of the film? She actually carries a storyline that humanizes Clark more while dehumizing Lex and still shows her finding her strength. She reveals to Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch that she was being threatened by Lex to denounce Superman. In the meantime, Clark tries to search her out and instead gets pointed towards the misdeeds of Batman. It added a crucial human connection to his story while showing a woman stand against corruption. All of this was cut, despite adding a compelling connection to multiple characters and storylines.

Upon seeing the Ultimate Edition, I realized that women were used to tie the story together completely but when it came down to a coherent story or a big fight scene, action won. And in a movie with two male leads, they will take center stage. Still, when your entire story movement hinges on women, maybe they should actually be included.

DC is trying with diversity, I won’t deny that. But for every male superhero, there is a traditional support system in place. For Batman, it’s Alfred. For Superman, it’s Lois Lane. But just like Alfred, Lois is a strong character independent of the hero. She has proven herself in the comics time and again, as a woman who doesn’t rely on a man to carry from place to place. Lois, as a realistic hero of the people, is a role model for girls and women everywhere. Sadly, she will never get her own solo film, so her chance to shine is in these films. Superman deserves a strong partner who can fight in her own way, not just at his side but on her own.
After seeing this, I still am not a fan of Batman v Superman. However, the extra scenes took the trainwreck of random scenes and made it a coherent, if not bad, story. With every successful superhero film, it works because the support characters are given the chance to develop and grow. Their story only serves to make the hero, and the film as a whole a triumph. Regulating the women to the DVD extras makes the story weak and the superhero star suffer because of it.

Mike Gold: Our Own, Personal, Joker

Dark Night DiniDark Night: A True Batman Story, written by Paul Dini, drawn by Eduardo Risso • Vertigo Comics, $22.98 hardcover, $13.79 digital.

Wow. This one is tough.

It’s tough to read, it must have been tough to write, and knowing that makes it even tougher to read. Of course, doing so is at the reader’s discretion. The writer had no choice but to live it.

Dark Night is subtitled “a true Batman story” and, well, it is. It is true, and it is a Batman story. And it’s Paul Dini’s story.

Paul is one of those people who needs no introduction. However, if I don’t give him one I’ll be taunting the ghost of my junior-year high school journalism teacher, and after reading this book I don’t want to piss off anyone in the ecto-sphere. Mr. Dini is the well-celebrated writer of animation, television, video games and comic books. He’s perhaps best known for his work on Tiny Toon Adventures and on Batman: The Animated Series. Oh, yeah, and he co-created Harley Quinn with animator Bruce Timm. Now that I’ve made the late Mr. Koerner happy…

Paul_DiniSome two dozen years ago, Paul was walking home in the dead of the Los Angeles night and encountered a couple of muggers who proceeded to beat the crap out of him. Surgery saved his sight and time put the rest of his pulped body together, although – of course – the psychological scars are far more enduring. Your brain scoops up all kinds of life-long memories and turns them up to 11, distorting them like two elephants mating on a wah-wah pedal. The inner-dialog never really ends, even while you try to figure out how to stuff it in its place. In this telling, Paul uses the characters of the Batman, the Joker, Two-Face, the Penguin and, yes, Harley Quinn as that inner-voice, all the while revealing the youthful neuroses common to those of us pop culture fans of baby boomer vintage.

It’s a harrowing experience made all the more horrific for the reader by knowing it’s a hell of a lot easier to read than it is to live. For those few who have never endured any degree of that experience, let me tell you this: releasing the story might be cathartic, but taking another peek into Pandora’s Box is risky to say the least.

Paul Dini is and has been one of the best comics and animation writers of the past 30 years and if all you’ve done is read and watched his stuff, you might not have known of his travails. While writing Dark Night might be his crowning achievement (after all, how you do top your own bloody, painful near-death experience?) in so doing he has taken American graphic novel writing to a whole new level, combining his life, his obsessions and his lifelong fictional posse to reveal a journey no one in his or her right mind would ever want take. People will be studying this book in writing schools forever.

I said this is Paul’s story, and that story is so overwhelming that at first reading you might miss the power and proficiency of artist Eduardo Risso’s work. Don’t worry; it’ll hit you once you wrest your nose from your belly button. Known for his work on 100 Bullets, Alien Resurrection, Wolverine and that other Dark Knight book released this year, his efforts are every bit as worthy as the story. Whomever put together that creative team – Paul, and/or editor Shelly Bond (who will be missed at DC) and/or others – hit the nail right on the head.

A non-fiction story co-starring Batman. Damn. This one was tough… and worth it.

Personal note: Really glad you made it through, Paul!

John Ostrander: Pop Culture Politics


“Chicago is not the most corrupt American city, it’s the most theatrically corrupt.” Studs Terkel.

Seducation of the GUnWith due respect (and a lot of it) for the late, great Studs Terkel, I think the Chicago city council has been supplanted by the Congress of the United States for political theater and corruption. As an old Chicago boy and fan of political theater, I was fascinated this week as the Democrats in the House of Representatives staged a sit-in in the well of the House, led by the venerable civil rights leader (and graphic novel author) John Lewis, to protest the refusal of the Republican leadership to even permit a vote on two very small and very specific gun control issues.

House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed the sit-in as a “publicity stunt.” Well, duh. That’s what a sit-in is, a publicity stunt to draw attention to a specific problem. Ryan himself has done a fair share of publicity stunts so I don’t know what his problem is. It’s all part of political theater.

I think there was more to the Democrats’ ploy that a mere desire to shine C-Span’s cameras on themselves. It was triggered by the shooting in Orlando at the gay nightclub that left 49 dead and 52 wounded. The House had its moment of silence to honor the dead for the 16th time of these type of events and that was going to be it. No gun control legislation was going to be even brought up for a vote, let alone passed, and the Dems snapped. They protested, they staged a sit-in to dramatize the situation and they got attention.

Why didn’t the GOP leadership simply allow a vote? I have my own theories. I doubt that the Dems would have allowed a simple voice vote; it would be a roll call and each representative would have to be tagged as they voted. For the GOP, atsa no good. Estimates say that 90% of the electorate are in favor of simple gun control measures so the representatives who voted against it would have to justify that vote to displeased voters.

They also don’t want to vote for any gun control measures. The National Rifle Association gives good money to Congresspersons to keep that from happening and they have issued stern warnings of what they would do to any Congressperson who did vote for gun control legislation – any gun control legislation. Translation: we’ll pour money into the campaign of someone to unseat you. We will make sure you lose your job. This is more important to them than doing their job. More than ever, Mel Brooks’ line in Blazing Saddles as the governor of the state resonates: “Gentlemen, we must protect our phony baloney jobs.”

Not to say that the Dems were completely in the right. One of the simple measures was “no fly, no buy” – meaning that if you are or were on a no-fly list (and thus, presumably, suspected of terrorist ties) at any time, you should not be allowed to buy a gun. However, I watched Larry Wilmore on The Nightly Show voice his problems with that. He has some of the same problems that the ACLU has – it’s too easy to get on the list, too little evidence has to be shown, it’s too hard to clear yourself and get off the list, it appears to unfairly target people of color, and it violates Constitutional freedoms including the right to due process.

It’s too bad because “No fly, no buy” is the sort of simplistic jingoistic catch phrase that works so well with the American public. We don’t do well with more nuanced declarations. Easy to say, easy to remember, and you don’t have to think. That’s ‘Murrica right there, that’s what that is.

To my mind, however, the real issue is not the specific legislation but the larger issue of how no meaningful gun regulation is possible because the NRA won’t hear of it. That’s the underlying frustration that led to the sit-in. Even though 90% of Americans want some kind of laws passed (according to many polls), they can’t even get discussed in the House and they sure won’t get passed in the Senate.

Just keep in mind that this Congressional version of Big Brother has one thing in common with the TV show – in the fall, they can get voted out.