Batman versus "Occupy"

WARNING: The author of this blog is a big comic book nerd

There is a new trailer out today for The Dark Knight Rises, the concluding chapter of Christopher Nolan's epic Batman trilogy, and once again there are some heavy themes that bring to mind the rising "Occupy Wall Street" movement. And since it's May Day (and the trailer is awesome) we thought it appropriate to point out some of the scenes in the trailer that bring the OWS themes to mind.

In the first full trailer for the film, the class warfare themes are evident. At a ballroom event, Anne Hathaway, playing Selina Kyle/Catwoman, confronts Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne/Batman.

"There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne," she says. "You and your friends better batten down the hatches. Because when it hits, you're all going to wonder how you ever thought you could ever live so large and leave so little for the rest of us."

Doesn't that sound a little like the rhetoric coming out of the more radical 99%?

But that's not all.

The films primary villain, Bane (played by Thomas Hardy), seems to be a radical interested in violence and destruction. But what separates him from the Joker, seen in the The Dark Knight, is that he seems to have a plan. Where Joker was played as a singular force of chaos and anarchy, Bane appears to be leading a revolution.

"When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die," the villain tells Batman.

Clearly, this isn't a vendetta against one man - but an entire city.

Even Bane's costume is meant to evoke the image of a revolutionary! GQ did an interview the film's costume designer:

"Bane was meant to look like a cross between a dictator and a revolutionary," Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming told us. "I designed the coat myself - it took a year. We took inspiration from a Swedish army jacket and a French Revolution frock coat and amalgamated the two.

Fans of the series will remember in the first film the villain was Ra's Al Ghul, who was also out to destroy Gotham.

Ghul, played by Liam Neeson, told Batman:

Only a cynical man would call what these people have "lives", Wayne. Crime. Despair. This is not how man was supposed to live. The League of Shadows has been a check against human corruption for thousands of years. We sacked Rome, loaded trade ships with plague rats, burned London to the ground. Every time a civilization reaches the pinnacle of its decadence, we return to restore the balance.

No one can save Gotham. When a forest grows too wild, a purging fire is inevitable and natural. Tomorrow the world will watch in horror as its greatest city tears itself apart through fear. The movement back to harmony will be unstoppable this time.

Throughout the ages, our weapons have become more sophisticated. With Gotham, we tried a new one: economics. But we underestimated certain of Gotham's people. Like your parents. Gunned down by the very people they were trying to help. Their deaths galvanized the city into saving itself, and Gotham has limped on ever since. We are back to finish the job. And this time no misguided idealists will get in the way. Like your father, you lack the courage to do all that is necessary. If someone stands in the way of true justice, you simply walk up behind them and stab them in the heart.

Could Bane have a similar agenda - one that seeks to destroy the whole city because he believes the 1% has grown powerful and corrupt?

And isn't that a Wall Street trading floor under that appears to be under attack?

Now, could this be a coincidence? Sure. But it wouldn't be surprising to see the film look at real world politics as many saw the last installment make some commentary on security and warrantless wiretapping.

Regardless of the politics, it looks like its going to be a pretty cool movie.

Trailer 2:

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

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The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!