Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Daily Outrage: Alaska Vs. Starving Children

I consider myself to be a fairly optimistic person. I may not always seem like it, because I love to talk about bad news and am generally introverted and, shall we say, not cheerful, but I tend to think the best of things. I feel that as bad as things in this world are, we wake up each day with the chance and power to fix it. There are, however, times when a news story crosses my path that fills me with bottomless rage and despair for the human race. Most often these stories involve a major oil company, or Sarah Palin, but this one merely involves someone associated with Palin; her former lieutenant governor(and current Alaska governor) Sean Parnell.

Recently Sean Parnell vetoed a bill that would have increased funding to Denali KidCare by 2.9 million dollars, a move which would have covered an additional 1,300 children and 218 pregnant women. For those who don't know, Denali KidCare is a program that provides care and aid to children and expectant mothers in low income families. It's a program very dear to my heart, because it helped Amber and I immeasurably when Pandora was born. Amber lost her job early into her pregnancy, and was having trouble finding a new one when she would have to take maternity leave so soon. And, truth be told, neither of us wanted to both be working full time, so I picked up a couple extra jobs so Amber could stay home. I was, for a time, working three jobs. A couple days a week I would be working 20 hours a day, biking between jobs that were on opposite ends of town, and sleeping for a few minutes here and there in the backroom at work. And still I was having trouble making ends meet. Technically I should have been above the poverty line, but I could barely pay the phone bill, let alone afford the medical care Amber and my unborn daughter required.

With Denali KidCare, Amber was able to stay home through the last half of her pregnancy, and almost the first year of Pandora's life. We were able to afford regular checkups for the both of them with a family practitioner, and we never had to worry about having essentials like bread, milk, eggs, cheese, or pre-natal vitamins. Without Denali KidCare, I can't honestly say we would have been able to have all of that. It is a program that I credit for the fact that I have a healthy 6 year old tearing up my house. Surprisingly, I'm thankful.

So, why would Sean Parnell veto a program that provides such a desperately needed service to thousands of struggling children? Because he discovered that some of Denali KidCare's money goes towards 'abortion related services'. Some of you probably agree with this decision, or at the very least can understand why a republican governor up for re-election would take a stand on a topic sure to please his party. But here's the kicker; Denali KidCare only spends about .18% of their annual budget on abortions, or abortion related services. And that phrase, abortion related services, is important; the money spent went towards services like medical consultation, and counseling for women interested in abortion, and only covered abortions when medically necessary. Meaning, abortions would only be covered under Denali KidCare when the pregnancy threatened the life of the mother. And there's more: Denali Kid Care is legally required to cover medically necessary abortions due to a 2001 State Supreme Court ruling that stipulates any program providing medically necessary care cannot discriminate in the case of abortions.

But let's say that Denali KidCare did cover 'elective abortions'(whatever that means- I've never met anyone who wants an abortion), so what? What gives Sean Parnell the right to deny funding to a program that provides a helpful, and legal, service, simply because he personally disagrees with it? He's an elected official, not an arbiter of culture or values. This was not a moral decision on Parnell's part, this was pandering to his political party. But here he's radically misjudged the situation. He's standing up for his 'beliefs' against a program that not only doesn't violate those beliefs, but actively works to uphold them. Nobody wants an abortion; they're a final resort for people who see themselves as unable to care for a child. If low income expectant mothers have a lifeline in Denali KidCare, a program that would provide them with help when they most desperately need it, there would be remarkably fewer abortions.

This is an outrage, and Sean Parnell needs to hear from us on this. The State Senate also needs our input, as they are reluctant to override Parnell's decision. So I urge everyone reading this to email Parnell and our senators at the addresses listed below and share your feelings on the subject.

Addresses and phone numbers for all members of the Alaska State Legislature can be found here:

Sean Parnell can be reached here:

And you can even find him on Facebook, here:

Monday, June 07, 2010

Superman's Dark Desire

The characters of Nightwing and Flamebird in the DC universe have a bit of a complicated back story, with at least half a dozen separate characters taking on each of those names. For example, the Nightwing and Flamebird that are currently the focus of Action Comics not that Superman is off in New Krypton bear no relation to the Nightwing of the Batman comics, which is the costumed identity of Dick Grayson, the first Robin(although he was inspired by the characters, who were inactive at the time he chose the mantle). Basically the names Nightwing and Flamebird are archetypal, and many people have taken over the mantle in order to give a symbolic weight to their heroic antics.

But that's not how the characters first saw light way back in the early sixties.

In the Superman comics of the 60s and 70s, Supes and his pal Jimmy Olsen had a series of adventures in the Kryptonian city of Kandor, which had been shrunken down and bottled by the villain Brainiac. In this miniature city Superman had no superpowers, and through some weird misunderstanding he was branded an outlaw, so he fashioned himself a new identity based on a bird native to Krypton; Nightwing. Jimmy Olsen joined in as Flamebird, and together they became a famous vigilante duo, fighting crime and righting wrongs.

The implication is clear: Superman's secret desire is to be Batman, and he roped Jimmy Olsen into his role-play fantasies as his own Robin. This is a theory pretty much confirmed by the comic itself; the persona's of Nightwing and Flamebird conform to the Batman and Robin iconography, with Nightwing in all black and Flamebird in bright oranges and yellows. Instead of a Batcave they have a Nightcave, and a Nightmobile instead of a batmobile. If that wasn't explicit enough, Superman chooses the name Nightwing because there are no bats on Krypton, so the name Batman would just confuse people.

But wait, there's more!

In post-Crisis continuity(for the non-comic nerds, Crisis on Infinite Earths was an event that spanned every DC Comics title in the mid-eighties, ending in a massive rewrite of the continuity up to that point, in an effort to streamline the comics and in some ways start from scratch) Nightwing and Flamebird were re-written as part of the Kyrptonian creation myth. Nightwing and Flamebird are part of a trinity of servants to Rao, the Kryptonian god(the third servant would be Vohc, the Breaker). Each generation, the essences of Nightwing and Flamebird are reborn in two individuals with a great love for each other that is doomed to end tragically in death.

I'm not quite sure how Jimmy and Supes fit into that equation.