Wednesday, December 26, 2012

One Sentence Review of Django Unchained

In Django Unchained Tarantino does for slavery what he did for World War II in Inglorious Basterds, namely add hyper-violence and historical inaccuracies, so if you liked that, you'll probably like this.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friendship Friday with Jimmy Olsen: The Son of Superman!

Who better to teach us about the true meaning of friendship than Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen?

Friends DON'T let on when they don't like a friend's gift.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wit of the Web Slinger Wednesday: Texas

Spider-Man is supposed to be funny, so this is kind of an abomination:

This is probably the first and only time that anyone has ever said "Wrong, Brother Dear!" to Sherlock Holmes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hostess Snack Break: Captain America in The Deserted City!

Everyone needs a break sometimes, so why don't you enjoy this one with one of your favorite superheroes and one of your favorite Hostess snack treats:

Captain America once again proves the amazing power of homophones.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wit of the Web-Slinger Wednesday: Elephants are Pests

Spider-Man is supposed to be funny, so this is kind of an abomination:

I wish I could argue with this logic, but I just can't.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hostess Snack Break: The Flash in "Marathon Madman"

Everyone needs a break sometimes, so why don't you enjoy this one with one of your favorite superheroes and one of your favorite Hostess snack treats:

It's kind of messed up for a superhero whose super power is "running really fast" to actually take first place in a marathon for normal people.  I also don't think anyone should eat something that makes them exclaim "What CHEMISTRY!  What taste!"

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Makeover: HARDAC

There are no bad characters, just characters that no one has spent far too much time thinking about how to make work. We intend to fix that.

The artificial intelligence known as HARDAC (Holographic Analytical Reciprocating DigitAl Computer, obviously) has only appeared in 3 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series (1992's "Heart of Steel: Part 1", "Heart of Steel: Part 2", and "His Silicon Soul").  It was created by the surprisingly non-evil mad scientist Karl Rossum after the death of his daughter in a car accident.  Unfortunately, creating an artificial intelligence because you're lonely and want it's help in creating robot replacement of your daughter isn't necessarily the best idea, and listening to its creator's grief only convinced HARDAC that human frailty is a weakness that must be purged.  Therefore it concluded that the only rational way to end suffering is to replace humanity with "duplicant" robots (I did mention that this is an artificial intelligence created by a mad scientist, right?).  HARDAC wass fairly successful in it's goal, replacing Karl Rossum, Commissioner Gordon, the Mayor of Gotham City, and figuring out that Batman was Bruce Wayne before Batman succeeded in destroying it and freeing the others (HARDAC had kept them alive to study them both to get information about them it couldn't find in computer databases and also because it had trouble duplicating human emotion).  Still, before it's ultimate destruction HARDAC managed to create one last duplicant of Batman.  Unfortunately, the Batman duplicant was damaged and believed itself to actually BE Batman.  Driven mad by the belief that "he" was trapped in a robot body, the Batman duplicant sought out Karl Rossum to repair it.  There it met the real Batman, completely lost it, and ended up repairing itself enough to realize the truth.  The Batman duplicant then tried to revive HARDAC using the Batcomputer.  When Batman tried to stop it, the Batman duplicant seemingly killed him.  Since the duplicant was programmed to think like Batman, and Batman doesn't kill, the logical paradox broke it's computer brain and it destroyed the Batcomputer, HARDAC, and itself.

I had initially thought that it was just childhood nostalgia that made me love HARDAC so much.  But rewatching the episodes made me realize there was considerably more there.  The best villains are ones that are either a foil to the hero (think the Joker) or a dark mirror of them.  And HARDAC is certainly the later.  Born out of loss and tragedy, HARDAC embarked on a monomaniacal quest to make sure that no one would ever have to feel that pain again.  While replacing all of humanity with immortal indestructible robots might not seem like the sanest way to prevent car accident fatalities, it's hard to argue that dressing up as a bat and throwing batarangs at muggers isn't exactly most people's first thought on how to reduce crime either.  This similarity to Batman is only exacerbated when HARDAC's programming gets trapped inside the Batman duplicant and it finds itself unable to violate Batman's moral code.  A literal mirror image of Batman, without his humanity, struggling to break free of it's programming so that it can force the world to be free of suffering (and humanity).  It's just a shame that it gets blown up in the Batcave at the end of it's last appearance.

"Why do you resist, HARDAC's goals are identical to your own.  Picture
a world completely free of crime, free of suffering, free of frailty."

Which brings us to what I would change or improve about HARDAC to make it work as a reoccurring Batman villain, and it doesn't take much.  Namely: instead of being blown up and it's robot body being left to be dismantled by Batman, have it be blown into one of the countless underground rivers in the Batcave and swept out to the waterways beneath Gotham City.  There, heavily damaged, the HARDAC/Batman duplicant would be forced to come up with a new plan.  With Batman's moral code hardwired into it's digital DNA it wouldn't be able to enact it's plan to replace humanity with duplicant's (even if it could manufacture them while damaged and living in the sewer).  No, building duplicants would be out, but if you're a robotic intelligence with a compulsion to be Batman, even in the sewers you could find enough scrap material to put together some kind of crimefighting robot.  Suffering must be eradicated after all and imprisoning criminals down in Gotham's catacombs doesn't violate any code against killing.  And when Batbots start abducting criminals, will anyone really believe that Batman isn't behind it?  And what happens when someone stumbles onto HARDAC's Batcave?

Art by the Amused Animator JJ Conway
"How has there not always been a psychotic broken Batman robot living underneath
Gotham City?"

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Published as a Public Service Announcement: Smoking is for Squares!

In the 40s and 50s, DC Comics published a series of PSAs in all of their titles. Some of them are still valuable lessons we can learn from today.....others are not.

Is there anything that Miss American Teenager can't do?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wit of the Web Slinger Wednesday: Elephant Milk

Spider-Man is supposed to be funny, so this is kind of an abomination:

I don't know what's wrong with that baby elephant's eyes, but it makes me think it's evil.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Terrific Tuesday Tidings: It's (Not) the End of the World as We Know It

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for my ongoing quest to become a more positive person. Here are the news stories that made me happy this week:
  • And things may just be getting better next year, with it looking like Senate Democrats are serious about taking on Filibuster Reform.  Now I could go into a long rant about how the filibuster isn't in the constitution and is being horribly abused blah blah blah, but instead I'll just point out that in six years as Senate Majority Leader, LBJ faced 1 filibuster and in six years Harry Reid has faced 386.  And that's pretty much the definition of dysfunction.
  • Finally, speaking of Congress, I think congratulations are in order for electing the single most diverse Congress in American history (and I'd recommend taking a look at the party IDs for the new members to see if you can spot a trend):
Click for larger version.

Hostess Snack Break: Daredevil in The Peachy Keen Caper

Everyone needs a break sometimes, so why don't you enjoy this one with one of your favorite superheroes and one of your favorite Hostess snack treats:

I'm not actually sure it's possible to reach that size on a diet of fresh peaches.

Frontline of the Class War: Fiscal Cliffs, and Walmart History

The Republicans are right, there is a class war going on in this country. And they're the ones waging it against the middle and working class:
  • Now some of you might remember that before the election Republicans were promising not to make cuts to current Medicare recipients which makes it shocking that Senator Bob Corker is demanding "very painful cuts to Medicare" as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations.  It's almost as if the Party that opposed the creation of Medicare and have spent the last 50 years trying to eliminate it might not actually have it's recipients best interests in mind.
Welcome to the Working Week!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Makeover: Apparently Someone Was Listening

The Monday Makeover was born out of my love for the seemingly endless, often terribly thought out, array of supervillains that Batman has fought in his more than 70 year history.  I would find obscure or terribly thought out characters (often both) and explain their history, analyze their strengths and weaknesses as a reusable supervillain character, and then try to come up with what changes would be necessary to make them functional or raise their profile.  And apparently someone was listening:

That panel is from February 2012's Batgirl (vol. 4) #4 by Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf.  And this would be the Monday Makeover for Radio Station C-R-I-M-E that I published on January 30th, 2012 in which I argued that the bizarre radio station that alerted criminals to the movement of Batman and the police by lip reading what people were saying in Commissioner Gordon's office would actually make a really practical smartphone app.  Now sure we could allow logic to dictate that the fact that mine was published mere weeks before the above panel was released means that this was simply a case of parallel  evolution with me and Gail Simone simply having similar ideas at roughly the same time.  Or we could allow fun to dictate that clearly DC Comics is monitoring the Monday Makeover and stealing my ideas.  I'll let you decide.

In the meantime, the Monday Makeover will return next week, but with a special twist.  My dear friend and Always Amused Animator JJ Conway has agreed to start doing character designs for the Makeovers.  Some will remember his design for Signalman from an early Monday Makeover, what most probably don't know is that JJ is probably the only person I know whose love of Batman rivals my own.  Indeed many of the concepts used in previous Makeover's stemmed from late night conversations between the two of us.  And more relevantly for fans of the feature, he and I have created a list (terrifyingly from off the top of our heads) of some 200 more Batman villains in need of our help.  So we're going to be at this for a while, and Gotham will be a much more terrifying place as a result.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Reading Rush: A Conspiracy Theory Just Crazy Enough to Work

When attempting to listen to Rush Limbaugh on the radio do you find yourself slamming your head into the steering wheel repeatedly until blood is streaming down your face while the other drivers in traffic look on in horror? Well, he's worse when you can actually read a transcript of what he's saying.

Are you aware that the regime has moved the dates that the states must be in compliance setting up an Obamacare health care exchange? The date was today. You had to have it set up today. If you didn't have it set up today, there wasn't gonna be an exchange in your states. And that's not good. Well, it would be good, actually, but for Obama, it wouldn't be good because the health care law does not allow the federal government to run the exchange. The states have to. They haven't changed it yet. It was an error. But guess what Obama did? He moved the date. And in some cases, it's all the way to February.
Now, I'll confess if you had told me that Rush would be upset by a delay in the implementation of Obamacare, I would have been surprised.  But don't worry, there's a perfectly logical explanation:
Now, when I first saw that, I said, hmm, I wonder why. I got my answer today in the New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial of Bobby Jindal. Very smart move by Obama. You move the date, allowing the media to trash all of these governors. There are a lot of Republican governors who have said -- Scott Walker's one in Wisconsin -- there's not gonna be a federal health care exchange in this state. Look, the governors are the last line of defense now. The states are the firewall. So the editorial on Jindal is the template. The media is going to be jumping all over these governors from now until February, accusing them of being heartless, no compassion, not even caring whether people have health care or not.

In fact, it'll be worse than that. Remember the line from the New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial at Jindal. "With every decision Jindal makes, comma, the message becomes clearer to hundreds of thousands of Louisiana residents who are uninsured: The state has no interest in helping you." Well, shazam. By the time Obama and his media buddies are finished, every Republican governor will be accused of having no interest in seeing to it that you have health insurance. That's right. And I want you Republican consultants to tell me what you're gonna do about this. I want to know. Are you gonna keep bitching at Mitt Romney? Are you gonna keep claiming that Romney goofed up here, goofed up there?

Meanwhile, the same old attack is gonna happen. Republicans are heartless, mean-spirited, extremist, and in states with largely black populations, racist. They don't want you to have health care, don't want you to get health treatment, medical treatment. Get ready. This New Orleans Times editorial is the template for what's gonna happen. And that's why the regime moved the deadline back, to give the media months to trash these Republican governors.
So to summarize, because no one should actually read all that, President Obama's evil plot is to put healthcare decisions in the hands of Republican Governors who will then refuse to help anyone and be painted as monsters for letting the uninsured die.  No, I'm not exaggerating, that's literally what Rush believes:
In fact, it'll be worse than that. Remember the line from the New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial at Jindal. "With every decision Jindal makes, comma, the message becomes clearer to hundreds of thousands of Louisiana residents who are uninsured: The state has no interest in helping you." Well, shazam. By the time Obama and his media buddies are finished, every Republican governor will be accused of having no interest in seeing to it that you have health insurance.
There is of course one little problem with this conspiracy theory about Obama playing 11th Dimensional Chess:  Republican Governors actually have to have "no interest in seeing to it that you have health insurance."  See if they cared at all about their citizens, Obama's evil plot to make them look like monsters, it wouldn't work.  In fact if they cared at all about the uninsured, this would be a golden opportunity for Republicans to look like heroes.

Now this is a crazy conspiracy theory because, as Rush admits in the first paragraph, the delay is to allow time to correct a minor error in the original law.  But what does it say that that's what makes this crazy and not the assumption that Republicans don't care about the uninsured at all?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Riddle Me This: What Do You Want to See on Entertained Organizer?

Do you have a favorite feature you want to make sure comes back?  A question you've been dying to have answered?  A topic you want to discuss?  Or maybe just a series of clues that will lead us all on a scavenger hunt to find George Washington's wooden teeth?  Let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do.

Friendship Friday with Jimmy Olsen: The Amazing Spectacles of Dr. X!

Who better to teach us about the true meaning of friendship than Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen?

Friends DON'T get angry with friends over things they haven't actually done yet.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

One Sentence Review of Argo

While I continue to be surprised that Ben Affleck is a legitimately good director, Argo was a tightly paced thrill ride that managed to keep me in suspense until the very end even though I already knew the outcome.

Tales from the Campaign Trail: Pizza and a Prayer

Note: Actual pizza in the story was a Hawaiian.
I am a terrible journalist.
I'm a political organizer, I hope my stories entertain you (so that's where the name comes from):

It was one of my canvassers' first day.  You train them, push them out into the world, and then anxiously await their return like what you'd expect if you crossed a four star general with a mother hen.  And she didn't come back.

Many thoughts crossed my mind.  Alien abduction.  Axe murderer.  Republican spy.  You know, the usual.  So I was fairly relieved when she called me to say that she'd locked her keys in her car.  Still she was nervous, and so after taking care of my other canvassers I headed out to wait with her for Triple A.  I found her sitting on a curb with a 40 minute wait time.  So I did the only sane and logical thing and started grilling her on how her first canvass went.

And overall it had gone well.  A little nervous at first.  Lot of Not Homes.  Eventually found her groove.  About what you'd expect really.  Except for one door.  There a woman told her she was a baby murderer who would rot in the deepest pits of hell for all eternity.  She handled it like a champ though, "Thank you for your time, and have a nice evening."  We were still talking about it and waiting for Triple A when all of a sudden a truck pulled up and a woman hopped out:

"I saw you guys and thought you might want some pizza.  And I thought you could use these."

With that she handed us a pizza and some pamphlets about "Accepting Jesus Christ as Our Personal Lord and Savior", hopped in her truck and drove off.

We stared at the pizza for a moment wondering if this was her plan to send us off to hell, and then decided we were hungry. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I'm Baaaaaaaaaaaack!

So I realize I disappeared somewhat suddenly.  I did not in fact die, despite all evidence to the contrary from anyone who knows me from outside of politics.  Instead I was presented with the opportunity to work on one of the most important, and competitive, races in the country.  Even under the best of circumstances campaigning leaves little time for blogging, and this one was brutal.  It was also worth it.  Victory always a great feeling, but I can't begin to describe the catharsis that comes from beating the opponent who gave me my first campaign loss.

I know what you're thinking though: "Sure Mr. Entertained Organizer that's all great for you, but what about me your loyal reader?"  Fear not!  Completing another cycle inevitably means that I have more Tales from the Campaign Trail for all of you.  Over the coming days you'll see the return of some of your favorite features, comedic commentary, rambling rants, and some new surprises I've been cooking up for you.

Until then, thanks for sticking around.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

President Barack Obama: "Why I'm Running for a Second Term"

Text of President Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention:
Michelle, I love you. The other night, I think the entire country saw just how lucky I am. Malia and Sasha, you make me so proud…but don’t get any ideas, you’re still going to class tomorrow. And Joe Biden, thank you for being the best Vice President I could ever hope for. 
Madam Chairwoman, delegates, I accept your nomination for President of the United States.
The first time I addressed this convention in 2004, I was a younger man; a Senate candidate from Illinois who spoke about hope – not blind optimism or wishful thinking, but hope in the face of difficulty; hope in the face of uncertainty; that dogged faith in the future which has pushed this nation forward, even when the odds are great; even when the road is long.
Eight years later, that hope has been tested – by the cost of war; by one of the worst economic crises in history; and by political gridlock that’s left us wondering whether it’s still possible to tackle the challenges of our time. 
I know that campaigns can seem small, and even silly. Trivial things become big distractions. Serious issues become sound bites. And the truth gets buried under an avalanche of money and advertising. If you’re sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me – so am I. 
But when all is said and done – when you pick up that ballot to vote – you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation. Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington, on jobs and the economy; taxes and deficits; energy and education; war and peace – decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and our children’s lives for decades to come. 
On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties.
It will be a choice between two different paths for America. 
A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future. 
Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known; the values my grandfather defended as a soldier in Patton’s Army; the values that drove my grandmother to work on a bomber assembly line while he was gone. 
They knew they were part of something larger – a nation that triumphed over fascism and depression; a nation where the most innovative businesses turned out the world’s best products, and everyone shared in the pride and success – from the corner office to the factory floor. My grandparents were given the chance to go to college, buy their first home, and fulfill the basic bargain at the heart of America’s story: the promise that hard work will pay off; that responsibility will be rewarded; that everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules – from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, DC. 
I ran for President because I saw that basic bargain slipping away. I began my career helping people in the shadow of a shuttered steel mill, at a time when too many good jobs were starting to move overseas. And by 2008, we had seen nearly a decade in which families struggled with costs that kept rising but paychecks that didn’t; racking up more and more debt just to make the mortgage or pay tuition; to put gas in the car or food on the table. And when the house of cards collapsed in the Great Recession, millions of innocent Americans lost their jobs, their homes, and their life savings – a tragedy from which we are still fighting to recover. 
Now, our friends at the Republican convention were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn’t have much to say about how they’d make it right. They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan. And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last thirty years: 
“Have a surplus? Try a tax cut.” 
“Deficit too high? Try another.” 
“Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!” 
Now, I’ve cut taxes for those who need it – middle-class families and small businesses. But I don’t believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores, or pay down our deficit. I don’t believe that firing teachers or kicking students off financial aid will grow the economy, or help us compete with the scientists and engineers coming out of China. After all that we’ve been through, I don’t believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small businesswoman expand, or the laid-off construction worker keep his home. We’ve been there, we’ve tried that, and we’re not going back. We’re moving forward. 
I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have. You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades. It will require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one. And by the way – those of us who carry on his party’s legacy should remember that not every problem can be remedied with another government program or dictate from Washington. 
But know this, America: Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I’m asking you to choose that future. I’m asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country – goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit; a real, achievable plan that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation. That’s what we can do in the next four years, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. 
We can choose a future where we export more products and outsource fewer jobs. After a decade that was defined by what we bought and borrowed, we’re getting back to basics, and doing what America has always done best:
We’re making things again. 
I’ve met workers in Detroit and Toledo who feared they’d never build another American car. Today, they can’t build them fast enough, because we reinvented a dying auto industry that’s back on top of the world. 
I’ve worked with business leaders who are bringing jobs back to America – not because our workers make less pay, but because we make better products. Because we work harder and smarter than anyone else. 
I’ve signed trade agreements that are helping our companies sell more goods to millions of new customers – goods that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America.
After a decade of decline, this country created over half a million manufacturing jobs in the last two and a half years. And now you have a choice: we can give more tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, or we can start rewarding companies that open new plants and train new workers and create new jobs here, in the United States of America. We can help big factories and small businesses double their exports, and if we choose this path, we can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years. You can make that happen. You can choose that future. 
You can choose the path where we control more of our own energy. After thirty years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. We’ve doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries. In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by one million barrels a day – more than any administration in recent history. And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in nearly two decades. 
Now you have a choice – between a strategy that reverses this progress, or one that builds on it. We’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration in the last three years, and we’ll open more. But unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country’s energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers. 
We’re offering a better path – a future where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy; where we develop a hundred year supply of natural gas that’s right beneath our feet. If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone. 
And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet – because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future. And in this election, you can do something about it. 
You can choose a future where more Americans have the chance to gain the skills they need to compete, no matter how old they are or how much money they have. Education was the gateway to opportunity for me. It was the gateway for Michelle. And now more than ever, it is the gateway to a middle-class life. 
For the first time in a generation, nearly every state has answered our call to raise their standards for teaching and learning. Some of the worst schools in the country have made real gains in math and reading. Millions of students are paying less for college today because we finally took on a system that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on banks and lenders. 
And now you have a choice – we can gut education, or we can decide that in the United States of America, no child should have her dreams deferred because of a crowded classroom or a crumbling school. No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money. No company should have to look for workers in China because they couldn’t find any with the right skills here at home. 
Government has a role in this. But teachers must inspire; principals must lead; parents must instill a thirst for learning, and students, you’ve got to do the work. And together, I promise you – we can out-educate and out-compete any country on Earth. Help me recruit 100,000 math and science teachers in the next ten years, and improve early childhood education. Help give two million workers the chance to learn skills at their community college that will lead directly to a job. Help us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next ten years. We can meet that goal together. You can choose that future for America. 
In a world of new threats and new challenges, you can choose leadership that has been tested and proven. Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did. I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. We have. We’ve blunted the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over. A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead. 
Tonight, we pay tribute to the Americans who still serve in harm’s way. We are forever in debt to a generation whose sacrifice has made this country safer and more respected. We will never forget you. And so long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known. When you take off the uniform, we will serve you as well as you’ve served us – because no one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job, or a roof over their head, or the care that they need when they come home.
Around the world, we’ve strengthened old alliances and forged new coalitions to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. We’ve reasserted our power across the Pacific and stood up to China on behalf of our workers. From Burma to Libya to South Sudan, we have advanced the rights and dignity of all human beings – men and women; Christians and Muslims and Jews. 
But for all the progress we’ve made, challenges remain. Terrorist plots must be disrupted. Europe’s crisis must be contained. Our commitment to Israel’s security must not waver, and neither must our pursuit of peace. The Iranian government must face a world that stays united against its nuclear ambitions. The historic change sweeping across the Arab World must be defined not by the iron fist of a dictator or the hate of extremists, but by the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people who are reaching for the same rights that we celebrate today. 
So now we face a choice. My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy, but from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly. 
After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy – and not al Qaeda – unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War time warp. You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally. My opponent said it was “tragic” to end the war in Iraq, and he won’t tell us how he’ll end the war in Afghanistan. I have, and I will. And while my opponent would spend more money on military hardware that our Joint Chiefs don’t even want, I’ll use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work – rebuilding roads and bridges; schools and runways. After two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it’s time to do some nation-building right here at home. 
You can choose a future where we reduce our deficit without wrecking our middle class. Independent analysis shows that my plan would cut our deficits by $4 trillion. Last summer, I worked with Republicans in Congress to cut $1 trillion in spending – because those of us who believe government can be a force for good should work harder than anyone to reform it, so that it’s leaner, more efficient, and more responsive to the American people. 
I want to reform the tax code so that it’s simple, fair, and asks the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on incomes over $250,000 – the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was president; the same rate we had when our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest surplus in history, and a lot of millionaires to boot. 
Now, I’m still eager to reach an agreement based on the principles of my bipartisan debt commission. No party has a monopoly on wisdom. No democracy works without compromise. But when Governor Romney and his allies in Congress tell us we can somehow lower our deficit by spending trillions more on new tax breaks for the wealthy – well, you do the math. I refuse to go along with that. And as long as I’m President, I never will. 
I refuse to ask middle class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. I refuse to ask students to pay more for college; or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, elderly, or disabled – all so those with the most can pay less. 
And I will never turn Medicare into a voucher. No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and dignity they have earned. Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care – not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more. And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it – not by turning it over to Wall Street. 
This is the choice we now face. This is what the election comes down to. Over and over, we have been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way; that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can’t afford health insurance, hope that you don’t get sick. If a company releases toxic pollution into the air your children breathe, well, that’s just the price of progress. If you can’t afford to start a business or go to college, take my opponent’s advice and “borrow money from your parents.” 
You know what? That’s not who we are. That’s not what this country’s about. As Americans, we believe we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights – rights that no man or government can take away. We insist on personal responsibility and we celebrate individual initiative. We’re not entitled to success. We have to earn it. We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk-takers who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system – the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known. 
But we also believe in something called citizenship – a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations. 
We believe that when a CEO pays his autoworkers enough to buy the cars that they build, the whole company does better. 
We believe that when a family can no longer be tricked into signing a mortgage they can’t afford, that family is protected, but so is the value of other people’s homes, and so is the entire economy. 
We believe that a little girl who’s offered an escape from poverty by a great teacher or a grant for college could become the founder of the next Google, or the scientist who cures cancer, or the President of the United States – and it’s in our power to give her that chance.
We know that churches and charities can often make more of a difference than a poverty program alone. We don’t want handouts for people who refuse to help themselves, and we don’t want bailouts for banks that break the rules. We don’t think government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems – any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles. 
Because we understand that this democracy is ours. 
We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense. 
As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. 
So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens – you were the change. 
You’re the reason there’s a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who’ll get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can’t limit her coverage. You did that.
You’re the reason a young man in Colorado who never thought he’d be able to afford his dream of earning a medical degree is about to get that chance. You made that possible.
You’re the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she’s ever called home; why selfless soldiers won’t be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love; why thousands of families have finally been able to say to the loved ones who served us so bravely: “Welcome home.” 
If you turn away now – if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn’t possible…well, change will not happen. If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void: lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are making it harder for you to vote; Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should make for themselves. 
Only you can make sure that doesn’t happen. Only you have the power to move us forward.
I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention. The times have changed – and so have I. 
I’m no longer just a candidate. I’m the President. I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, for I have held in my arms the mothers and fathers of those who didn’t return. I’ve shared the pain of families who’ve lost their homes, and the frustration of workers who’ve lost their jobs. If the critics are right that I’ve made all my decisions based on polls, then I must not be very good at reading them. And while I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, “I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.” 
But as I stand here tonight, I have never been more hopeful about America. Not because I think I have all the answers. Not because I’m na├»ve about the magnitude of our challenges. 
I’m hopeful because of you.  
The young woman I met at a science fair who won national recognition for her biology research while living with her family at a homeless shelter – she gives me hope. 
The auto worker who won the lottery after his plant almost closed, but kept coming to work every day, and bought flags for his whole town and one of the cars that he built to surprise his wife – he gives me hope. 
The family business in Warroad, Minnesota that didn’t lay off a single one of their four thousand employees during this recession, even when their competitors shut down dozens of plants, even when it meant the owners gave up some perks and pay – because they understood their biggest asset was the community and the workers who helped build that business – they give me hope. 
And I think about the young sailor I met at Walter Reed hospital, still recovering from a grenade attack that would cause him to have his leg amputated above the knee. Six months ago, I would watch him walk into a White House dinner honoring those who served in Iraq, tall and twenty pounds heavier, dashing in his uniform, with a big grin on his face; sturdy on his new leg. And I remember how a few months after that I would watch him on a bicycle, racing with his fellow wounded warriors on a sparkling spring day, inspiring other heroes who had just begun the hard path he had traveled. 
He gives me hope. 
I don’t know what party these men and women belong to. I don’t know if they’ll vote for me. But I know that their spirit defines us. They remind me, in the words of Scripture, that ours is a “future filled with hope.” 
And if you share that faith with me – if you share that hope with me – I ask you tonight for your vote. 
If you reject the notion that this nation’s promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election. 
If you reject the notion that our government is forever beholden to the highest bidder, you need to stand up in this election. 
If you believe that new plants and factories can dot our landscape; that new energy can power our future; that new schools can provide ladders of opportunity to this nation of dreamers; if you believe in a country where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules, then I need you to vote this November. 
America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now. Yes, our path is harder – but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer – but we travel it together. We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth. 
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless these United States.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Elizabeth Warren: "We Build It Together"

Text of Elizabeth Warren's Speech to the Democratic National Convention:
Thank you! I'm Elizabeth Warren, and this is my first Democratic Convention. Never thought I'd run for senate. And I sure never dreamed that I'd get to be the warm-up act for President Bill Clinton—an amazing man, who had the good sense to marry one of the coolest women on the planet. I want to give a special shout out to the Massachusetts delegation. I'm counting on you to help me win and to help President Obama win. 
I'm here tonight to talk about hard-working people: people who get up early, stay up late, cook dinner and help out with homework; people who can be counted on to help their kids, their parents, their neighbors, and the lady down the street whose car broke down; people who work their hearts out but are up against a hard truth—the game is rigged against them.
It wasn't always this way. Like a lot of you, I grew up in a family on the ragged edge of the middle class. My daddy sold carpeting and ended up as a maintenance man. After he had a heart attack, my mom worked the phones at Sears so we could hang on to our house. My three brothers all served in the military. One was career. The second worked a good union job in construction. The third started a small business. 
Me, I was waiting tables at 13 and married at 19. I graduated from public schools and taught elementary school. I have a wonderful husband, two great children, and three beautiful grandchildren. And I'm grateful, down to my toes, for every opportunity that America gave me. This is a great country. I grew up in an America that invested in its kids and built a strong middle class; that allowed millions of children to rise from poverty and establish secure lives. An America that created Social Security and Medicare so that seniors could live with dignity; an America in which each generation built something solid so that the next generation could build something better. 
But for many years now, our middle class has been chipped, squeezed, and hammered. Talk to the construction worker I met from Malden, Massachusetts, who went nine months without finding work. Talk to the head of a manufacturing company in Franklin trying to protect jobs but worried about rising costs. Talk to the student in Worcester who worked hard to finish his college degree, and now he's drowning in debt. Their fight is my fight, and it's Barack Obama's fight too. 
People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here's the painful part: they're right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs—still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.
Anyone here have a problem with that? Well I do. I talk to small business owners all across Massachusetts. 
Not one of them—not one—made big bucks from the risky Wall Street bets that brought down our economy. I talk to nurses and programmers, salespeople and firefighters—people who bust their tails every day. Not one of them—not one—stashes their money in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. 
These folks don't resent that someone else makes more money. We're Americans. We celebrate success. We just don't want the game to be rigged. We've fought to level the playing field before. About a century ago, when corrosive greed threatened our economy and our way of life, the American people came together under the leadership of Teddy Roosevelt and other progressives, to bring our nation back from the brink. 
We started to take children out of factories and put them in schools. We began to give meaning to the words "consumer protection" by making our food and medicine safe. And we gave the little guys a better chance to compete by preventing the big guys from rigging the markets. We turned adversity into progress because that's what we do. 
Americans are fighters. We are tough, resourceful and creative. If we have the chance to fight on a level playing field—where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot—then no one can stop us. President Obama gets it because he's spent his life fighting for the middle class. And now he's fighting to level that playing field—because we know that the economy doesn't grow from the top down, but from the middle class out and the bottom up. That's how we create jobs and reduce the debt. 
And Mitt Romney? He wants to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. But for middle-class families who are hanging on by their fingernails? His plans will hammer them with a new tax hike of up to 2,000 dollars. Mitt Romney wants to give billions in breaks to big corporations—but he and Paul Ryan would pulverize financial reform, voucher-ize Medicare, and vaporize Obamacare. 
The Republican vision is clear: "I've got mine, the rest of you are on your own." Republicans say they don't believe in government. Sure they do. They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends. After all, Mitt Romney's the guy who said corporations are people. 
No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don't run this country for corporations, we run it for people. And that's why we need Barack Obama. 
After the financial crisis, President Obama knew that we had to clean up Wall Street. For years, families had been tricked by credit cards, fooled by student loans and cheated on mortgages. I had an idea for a consumer financial protection agency to stop the rip-offs. The big banks sure didn't like it, and they marshaled one of the biggest lobbying forces on earth to destroy the agency before it ever saw the light of day. American families didn't have an army of lobbyists on our side, but what we had was a president—President Obama leading the way. And when the lobbyists were closing in for the kill, Barack Obama squared his shoulders, planted his feet, and stood firm. And that's how we won. 
By the way, just a few weeks ago, that little agency caught one of the biggest credit card companies cheating its customers and made it give people back every penny it took, plus millions of dollars in fines. That's what happens when you have a president on the side of the middle class. 
President Obama believes in a level playing field. He believes in a country where nobody gets a free ride or a golden parachute. A country where anyone who has a great idea and rolls up their sleeves has a chance to build a business, and anyone who works hard can build some security and raise a family. President Obama believes in a country where billionaires pay their taxes just like their secretaries do, and—I can't believe I have to say this in 2012—a country where women get equal pay for equal work. 
He believes in a country where everyone is held accountable. Where no one can steal your purse on Main Street or your pension on Wall Street. President Obama believes in a country where we invest in education, in roads and bridges, in science, and in the future, so we can create new opportunities, so the next kid can make it big, and the kid after that, and the kid after that. That's what president Obama believes. And that's how we build the economy of the future. An economy with more jobs and less debt. We root it in fairness. We grow it with opportunity. And we build it together. 
I grew up in the Methodist Church and taught Sunday school. One of my favorite passages of scripture is: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40. The passage teaches about God in each of us, that we are bound to each other and called to act. Not to sit, not to wait, but to act—all of us together. 
Senator Kennedy understood that call. Four years ago, he addressed our convention for the last time. He said, "We have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world." Generation after generation, Americans have answered that call. And now we are called again. We are called to restore opportunity for every American. We are called to give America's working families a fighting chance. We are called to build something solid so the next generation can build something better. 
So let me ask you—let me ask you, America: are you ready to answer this call? Are you ready to fight for good jobs and a strong middle class? Are you ready to work for a level playing field? Are you ready to prove to another generation of Americans that we can build a better country and a newer world? 
Joe Biden is ready. Barack Obama is ready. I'm ready. You're ready. America's ready. Thank you! And God bless America!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friendship Friday with Jimmy Olsen: The Boy Who Killed Superman!

Who better to teach us about the true meaning of friendship than Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen?

Friends DON'T kill friends. (Some of these lessons are pretty basic.)

Romney Goes Birther

Now I realize that Mitt Romney's official position up until now of not distancing himself from Birthers because he "needs to get to 50.1% or more" is pretty disgusting, but this is a whole other level of appealing to the racist vote:

"I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born at Henry Ford hospital, I was born at Harper hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."
 Personally my favorite part is the 4 second pause just before Romney says the birth certificate line, as if some small part of him questions this decision before being overruled by his blind ambition.  It's also especially classy given that he's spent the last week and a half attacking Vice President Joe Biden of using racist "code words."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Published as a Public Service Announcement: The Dodo and the Frog Ask "How Are Your Manners Out-Of-Doors?"

In the 40s and 50s, DC Comics published a series of PSAs in all of their titles. Some of them are still valuable lessons we can learn from today.....others are not.

I'm just going to skip right over the fact that Dodo's are extinct and the fact that the plan is apparently to have bears maul the children because I can't get past the fact that the frog is bigger than the bears and wearing a top hat.

FDR Warned Us Not to Trust Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan

Which is pretty impressive when you think about it, since he died before either of them were even born:

Let me warn you and let me warn the nation against the smooth evasion that says “Of course we believe these things. We believe in Social Security. We believe in work for the unemployed. We believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things. But we do not like the way the present administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them. We will do more of them. We will do them better. And most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.”
-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

An iPhone App (Possibly) More Fun than Angry Birds

Ok, this is actually pretty cool (even if it makes me a nerd). The Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit that tracks SuperPAC spending, has released a free iPhone app called AdHawk that will identify who is behind a political ad, the groups history/where they get their funding, and how much money they're spending to get it out there by sampling 15 seconds of audio. I've spent a couple minutes playing with it and it actually works pretty well:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"VOTE!!!: The Game" Trailer

No words.  Should have sent a poet:

Wit of the Web Slinger Wednesday: Penguin

Spider-Man is supposed to be funny, so this is kind of an abomination:

No, I have absolutely no idea why Spider-Man is an animal wrangler for a movie.  Or for that matter why the director has placed her chair directly in front of the camera.

Republican Racism Review: Birther SEALs, Dog Whistles, and the American Dream

Real button handed out at the 2008
Texas Republican State Convention
If you start keeping your eyes open for them, there are a terrifying number of news stories about Republicans being racist:
  • Oh, the other former Navy SEAL organization attacking the President for killing Osama Bin Laden is also lead by a Birther.  You know, for symmetry.
  • The Romney campaign is accusing Vice President Joe Biden of using racist "code words" in his comments about how Republican economic policies would unchain Wall Street and put the rest of us in chains.  Now I could go off on a tangent about how maybe when no prominent African American individuals or organizations have come forward saying the comments were inappropriate or asking for an apology and in fact the only people who seem to be upset are conservative white people, that maybe, just maybe, those comments weren't actually racist but just an uncomfortable truth.  But instead I want to congratulate the Romney campaign on figuring out the concept of dog whistle racism.  Maybe now they'll stop using it themselves.  For example not saying things like President Obama doesn't appreciate our special "Anglo-Saxon heritage."  Stuff like that.
  • Meanwhile, Danny Tarkanian, a Republican congressional candidate in Nevada, defended himself of accusations of using broad racial stereotypes by accusing his African American opponent of pretending to be black.  Presumably he believes that the best defense against accusations of racism is doubling down on the racism?  Closet racists really must hate the prevalence of camera phones.
  • RNC Chairman Reince Preibus believes that the "Mitt Romney Story" best represents "the American Dream."  I mean sure the child of an interracial marriage, raised by a single mother, coming from humble beginnings to become a constitutional law professor and later President of the United States SOUNDS good, but its no born to a multi-millionaire CEO and Governor who went on to be a corporate raider and then try to buy the Presidency multiple times.  Come on, this is the American Dream we're talking about.

West Wing Wednesday

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Voting Rights Violators: A Fun Theory, Some Depressing Stuff, and Why It Matters

In 11 weeks we go to the polls again to reelect President Obama. Republicans know that they aren't going to gain the support of the American people, so instead they're going to strip them of the right to vote:
  • The Guardian has my new favorite theory for why Mitt Romney is refusing to release his tax returns: they could prove he committed voter fraud.  The article is worth a read, but the gist of it is that during the 2010 special election to replace Ted Kennedy, Mitt and Ann Romney did not own any property in Massachusetts and registered to vote out of their son's Belmont, MA basement.  Now just because Mitt's worth a quarter of a billion dollar and owns three mansions in other states, it doesn't prove that he wasn't living in his son's basement.  But his 2009 tax returns, which were filed shortly after the special election, could.  In fact, in cases of voter fraud by disputed residence, where someone lists their residence on their tax returns is considered the gold standard.  For extra fun, this type of voter fraud would not be prevented by Republican Voter ID laws.
  • Why do I make such a big deal out of all of this stuff?  Because Obama (and Democrats in general) beat Republicans 2 to 1 among "unlikely voters.  Those are the people most likely to get disenfranchised by voter suppression tactics.  If you want to say that makes this a partisan issue, that's fine.  But it also means that Democrats are on the side of more people legally voting while Republicans are on the side of preventing people from exercising their right to vote.  And in a democracy, that makes us the good guys.

The DNC Helps Romney Paint a Word Picture on his Tax Returns

And it's beautiful:

Hostess Snack Break: Daredevil in "McBrain's Brain Drain."

Everyone needs a break sometimes, so why don't you enjoy this one with one of your favorite superheroes and one of your favorite Hostess snack treats:

Sure we could focus on the fact that it's lucky the guy with mind powers is named McBrain instead of like Steve or the fact that being the smartest man alive doesn't stop him from being distracted by junk food you can buy at the gas station, and maybe it's just that I've looked at so many of these ads now, but is anyone else freaked out that there isn't a single exclamation mark anywhere on here?  Not even in the title?

Terrific Tuesday Tidings: Voting Rights, Lesbians, and Todd Akin

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for my ongoing quest to become a more positive person. Here are the news stories that made me happy this week: