Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mitt Romney Violently Assaulted a Tree, Presumably NOT the Right Height

I know I've made fun of Mitt Romney a lot in the last week for his obsession with Michigan trees being the "right height", and that is because it's completely insane and makes him sound like a robot.  Well according to his mother, that robot malfunctioned and punched a tree:
Romney's mother Lenore, 85, recalled toting her teen-age son along during her raucuous 1970 Senate campaign. 'He wanted to punch anyone who didn't like his dad,' she recalled. 'I told him if he did that he was through. I told him to go over and punch a tree if he was that mad - and he did.'
Presumably that tree was NOT the right height, and this upset his programming.  More seriously, it suggests something I've long believed, which is that Romney has a nasty temper.  I wonder if we'll get to see it if things don't go his way tonight?

I Remember This Obama, I Like This Guy

Campaigner Obama is back.  I almost feel sorry for whatever idiot wins the Republican nomination (now if Campaigner Obama could just have a talk with President Obama):

Help Protect Rick Santorum

Hostess Snack Break: Hawkman Makes a Safe Landing!

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 pretty sure that the second to last panel shows that the reason it didn't open was that he removed the parachute and replaced it with Hostess Cupcakes.

Mitt Romney has More Fun with NASCAR

They're disposable plastic ponchos that sell for about a dollar.  So either Romney is mocking these people, or he has absolutely zero conception of what the marginal value of a dollar is to non-multimillionaires.  We Report.  You Decide.

Terrific Tuesday Tidings: DOMA, Satirical Laws, and a Hunger Strike

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:
  • Georgia State Representative Yasmin Neal has introduced a bill that would ban vasectomies (unless the man's life was endangered) in protest of the attempts to limit women's access to birth control.  And she's right, it is functionally exactly the same.  The fact that it only sounds crazy when you're talking about stripping a man of the right to control his reproductive options is pretty much what's wrong with this country.

Why I'm Giving the Walkergate Ad a Pass

I want to be very clear that I'm against naming scandals by taking some noun associated with it and adding -gate to it.  I wrote an entire rant on the subject.  It's lazy and doesn't even make a whole lot of sense.  Watergate was named after the WATERGATE Hotel, the rest of them are literally just going "remember that time there was a scandal, this is a scandal too."  That said, I'm giving the Wisconsin Democratic Party's ad "Walkergate" a pass because it's actually at least making a comparison between the corrupt and illegal practices of Governor Walker's administration and the corrupt and illegal practices of the Nixon administration.  Also the ad is good, and that forgives a lot:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Makeover: The Great White Shark

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

February is Supporting Supervillain Month

Click for larger version.
Warren White, the Great White Shark of Wall Street, made his first appearance in 2003's Arkham Asylum: Living Hell #1.  One of the world's leading Wall Street tycoon, Warren White got caught embezzling billions of dollars from his investors and his company's pension fund.  Assuming he could buy his way out of jail, his crack legal team successfully convinced the jury that he was not guilty by reason of insanity.  Unfortunately for the Great White Shark in Gotham City that meant a trip to Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane.  The rest of the Living Hell mini-series explored Warren White's physical and psychological abuse at the hands of his fellow inmates, including Killer Croc slashing gill like scars into his neck and Jane Doe leaving him to die of hypothermia in Mr. Freeze's cell so she could steal his identity.  While the ordeal cost him his nose, hair, ears, and several of his fingers, it left the Great White Shark no longer afraid of his fellow illustrious inmates, and using his well hidden assets and business connections to procure pretty much whatever a psychotic supervillain might desire.

Click for larger version.
Since then, he's made sporadic appearances as a major crime boss in Gotham City.  Sometimes he's shown to be running his empire from within Arkham Asylum, sometimes he's out on the loose.      The key features of all his appearances are that since his ordeals in Arkham he no longer fears any of Batman's rogues gallery or indeed the Dark Knight himself, he drives a hard bargain, and ruthlessly destroys those he perceives as in his way (going so far as to re-scar and psychologically break a reformed Two Face because a crusading Harvey Dent might be a problem for him).  Other than that, he's pretty much your run of the mill crime boss whose been hideously disfigured to look like a shark and acts as a procurer for other supervillains.

There's a lot I like about the Great White Shark.  For one thing, his introductory mini-series Arkham Asylum: Living Hell is just a fantastic and darkly funny look behind the scenes at the world's most famous fiction madhouse.  It was also somewhat prescient making it's new supervillain a corrupt stock market mogul long before Bernie Madoff became a household name.  And the Great White Sharks embezzled billions squirreled away in off shore bank accounts provides a perfect explanation for how Batman's rogues gallery afford personalized (and weaponized) vehicles, weapons, and killer robots: They get them from Warren White on a consignment basis.  It's supervillain venture capitalism.

That's not to say that the Great White Shark is without flaws as a character.  The crime boss angle frankly doesn't make a huge amount of sense, after all why take the risk of putting himself in the sights of the cops, Batman, and rival crime lords, when he can just invest in various other supervillains, let them take all the risks, and he makes money either way.  Furthermore, from a story telling standpoint there are already literally dozens of crime bosses and different gangs running around Gotham, most of them better designed for the role than a Wall Street fat cat.  He should focus on what he's good at.  Pure business.

When he was working on Wall Street, Warren White never would have guessed the twists and turns that life had in store for him.  But every good businessman knows to seize an opportunity when it presents itself.  The Great White Shark didn't fear the freaks of Gotham City, and he had the capital to provide them the resources needed to fulfill their wildest dreams.  Then it's simply a matter of diversifying your investments: mad scientists, colorful bank robbers, those with psychotic breaks from reality; all key to a balanced portfolio, all with their own unique wants and needs.  Of course if you want your business to keep growing, you eventually need to expand into new markets.  Now to do that you can either go toe to toe with competitors who know the market better than you do, or you can just buy them out and bring them under your umbrella.  The Great White Shark always preferred the latter, delegation is key after all.  So he found those who could provide services his clients desired and he hired them.  If Killer Croc wants a run down aquarium with sewer access, the Great White Shark simply sends him to the Broker.  When Colonel Blimp is sure this time his aerial armada can conquer Gotham if only he can keep Batman from getting on board, a call is placed to the Trapper.  If Signalman is having a hard time recruiting henchmen for his next heist, the Great White Shark suggests that he try out some of the General's men, they're impeccably trained.  And of course if by some chance their plans happen to go awry, not to worry, he has Egghead on retainer.  Business is all about people.  And for the right price, the Great White Shark is happy to work with anyone.

Ron Paul Swanson on Eating

Obama SuperPAC Ad: Bankrupt

While I still think that SuperPACs are terrible and need to be outlawed (by Constitutional Amendment if necessary), I can't help but enjoy watching Democrats actually attack Republicans.  I also kind of want an Entertained Organizer SuperPAC.  Anyone got a couple million dollars lying around they aren't sure what to do with?

A Child in 1976 Predicted Mitt Romney Would Run for President

The Smithsonian is running an exhibit of elementary school children's drawings from 1976 predicting what the future would look like 100 years later in 2076.  While most of the children either drew a Jetsonian utopia or a nuclear wasteland, one child had the foresight to see Mitt Romney's Presidential Campaign coming (I realize he's technically 64 years off, but if Romney keeps losing he very well may still be running in 2076):

Also you really should check out the rest of the drawings, they're hilarious.

Frontline of the Class War: They "Only Have Themselves to Blame" Edition

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 when Rush Limbaugh said last week that they "only have themselves to blame" he was talking about poor people.  But I think this edition of Frontline of the Class War will show he might as well have been talking about the Republican Presidential Candidates.
Welcome to the Working Week!

Romneybot: "The Trees are the Right Height." Take 2

I love this country.  I actually love this state.  It just feels good being back in Michigan.  The trees are the right height.  The streets are just right.  I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit made automobiles.  I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck.  Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs actually.  And I used to have a Dodge truck so I used to have all three covered.
I'm pretty sure that the fact Romney has repeated the line "The trees are the right height" at two different events now makes it an official campaign talking point.  I'm also pretty sure that "The streets are just right" is also evidence that he's a robot.  Finally, while I understand that he desperately wants to connect with Michigan autoworkers, I'm pretty sure that telling them that between you and your wife you own 5 cars including 2 Cadillacs is the way to do it.  And no, explaining that she drives 2 Cadillacs because one is kept at your mansion in Massachusetts while the other is kept at your mansion in California won't make it better.

Mitt Romney Trying to Connect with Commoners

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Love Lessons with Lois Lane: The Kryptonite Girl!

In much of the civilized world, Saturday night is date night. And everything I know about dating I learned from Lois Lane. So before heading out for the night, let's see what advice she has for us this week:

Sometimes it's mental illness, sometimes it's drug or alcohol addiction, and sometimes it's shooting kryptonite lasers out of their eyes; but it doesn't really matter what the reason is for domestic abuse, it is not ok and you need to protect yourself by ending the relationship.

He-Man Woman Haters Club Report: Aspirin, Radical Girl Scouts, and Married Abstinence

With classism, racism, and homophobia already in the mix, why wouldn't the GOP add in some sexism too:
  • Given that Rick Santorum believes outlawing birth control should be one of the central goals of his Presidency, George Stephanopoulos was clearly a "paid Democratic hitman" who was "under orders" to ask Mitt Romney about the issue.  That or Dick Morris and Sean Hannity realize that this issue is going to be deadly for Republicans in the fall and are desperate for Romney not to have to tack right on it.
  • Remember last week when I wrote about the proposed Virginia law that would require a probe be inserted into a woman's vagina without her consent before she could get an abortion? Well, CNN's Dana Loesch doesn't see a problem with it because "they had no problem having similar to a trans-vaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy."  Now putting aside the fact that some women seeking abortions are doing so because they were raped and never consented to everything, especially disgusting is the implication that if a woman ever consents to being "vaginally penetrated" by anything under any circumstances she is consenting to being "vaginally penetrated by all possible things in all possible circumstances.  Because apparently in 2012 if a woman doesn't have an intact hymen she's ruined anyway, at least to conservatives.
  • In other followup news, Fox News Liz Trotta refuses to apologize for her comments last week that women in the military should "expect to be sexually assaulted."
  • New Hampshire Republican State Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker believes that if a married couple don't have insurance they should just practice abstinence until "you decide you want to get pregnant you can refrain from abstinence."  So please stop telling me that conservatives think sex is a special thing that belongs only in the sacred confines of marriage.  They don't, they believe that sex is only for procreation and anything else is dirty and wrong.  And lets let them run on that message.

What if You Had an Economic Policy Speech and Nobody Came?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friendship Friday with Jimmy Olsen: Jimmy Olsen, Crooner!

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

Friends DON'T cockblock friends.  Also why don't we use the word "crooner" anymore?

Friday Freakshow Roundup: Chickens, Charts, and the Return of Taiwanese Animated News Breaks

In the political news system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the Republicans who do insane things, and this blogger who mocks them. These are their stories:
  • Newt Gingrich has started sending a man in a chicken costume to follow around the Romney campaign with a sign accusing him of being "too chicken to debate Newt Gingrich" since Romney has declared he won't be doing any more debates.
  • Speaking of Mitt Romney, earlier in the week one of his spokesmen told reporters that Santorum lacks "the basic level of competence" needed to be President, which is going to be even more amusing when it comes time for Romney to endorse him like a good little soldier.
  • Of course Santorum isn't the only one questioning Obama's Christianity, Franklin Graham, heir to the Religious Right, doesn't believe the President when he says he's a Christian.  In case you were wondering, Graham also doesn't believe Mitt Romney's claims to be Christian, though he does believe Santorum and Gingrich.
  • Fox News is still having problems making charts that aren't complete lies, this time when it comes to gas prices.  Who knew that "last week" and "last year" were equal lengths of time, or that gas prices have gone up in a straight line since then?
  • Finally, I feel like I've been letting you down the last few weeks, forgetting that the real reason you all come back is for the Taiwanese Animated News Program, so consider this my apology:

Ron Paul Swanson on Charity:

"Made in America" or Why the Republicans are Screwed

The Republicans can ramble on about how Obama "apologizes for America" all they want, but ads like this are going to put the lie to them:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Published as a Public Service Announcement: Bike Safety = Bike Fun!

For all my friends in Isla Vista

Closeted Coundown: Modern Family, Ex-Lovers, and Gay Las Vegas

I've long believed that the only thing that could motivate someone to dedicate their lives to homophobia is deep self-loathing. So start the countdown timer until these folks get caught with a gay prostitute:
  • Michele Bachmann may not care, but a gay teenager committed suicide in her district.  This is her story.
  • Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard the story of Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu.  But just in case you do in fact live underneath a rock, Paul Babeu is a Republican candidate for Congress and was the Co-Chair of Romney's Arizona Campaign.  I say "was" because after it came out that he threatened to have a former gay lover deported if he ever came forward about their affair, and that kind of reflects poorly on Mitt Romney (doesn't reflect that well on Sheriff Babeu either).

Sheriff Joe Arpaio: The Cool Kid in the Republican Party

While the rest of the world is wondering how many horribly racist abuses are going to be exposed by the FBI's investigation into Sheriff Joe, the Republican Presidential candidates are lining up to beg for his endorsement.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Liveblogging the Arizona Republican Party Presidential Debate on CNN

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Tonight's Republican Presidential Debate will begin at 8PM PST on CNN (and streaming here).  This is the 20th Republican Presidential Debate.  I have watched all of them, which means I've literally spent 2 whole days of my life listening to this insanity.  It also means I should be committed.  Still this is likely to be the last debate as both Romney and Santorum have announced they won't be doing any more.  What else to say?  This debate is pretty much must win for everybody, except Ron Paul who doesn't really count.  Romney's only hope for closing out this nomination is to win this debate and go on to win at least 2 of the 3 contests next week.  Santorum's hoping for a win tonight to help him maintain his lead in the face of a relentless onslaught of negative ads.  And Newt Gingrich is hoping someone will remember he's still running.  So let's do this:

T-Minus 12 minutes

T-Minus 4 minutes


Rick Santorum: The Late Contender
Mitt Romney: The Long Distance Runner
Newt Gingrich: The Determined Challenger
Ron Paul: The Delegate Hunter

I wish I was making this up, it's like I'm watching Professional Wrestling

Haha, this is going to be fun, the entire audience stopped cheering when Rick Santorum was introduced

Ok, doing both the Pledge of Allegiance AND the National Anthem before the debate seems kind of intense

After 20 debates is it really necessary for the candidates to introduce themselves?

Mitt Romney just quoted George Costanza, that actually happened

Santorum: The Paul Ryan budget doesn't go far enough in destroying Medicare

Romney: "I served in the Olympics."  What event?  Luge?  Curling?  Pretty sure flip flopping isn't an event.

Santorum: Romney joined the Occupy Wall Street movement today, he's basically a dirty tax raising hippy

Paul, why do you call Santorum a fake? "Because he's a fake."

I really wish I knew what exactly Romney was bribing Paul with, because it has to be good for him to always be Romney's attack dog in these debates

Santorum has been rambling on about all the report card scores he's gotten from various organizations, and all I can think is: Clearly there needs to be an Entertained Organizer Report Card

There really is nothing like watching Mitt Romney pretend that he was a social conservative while Governor of Massachusetts

I think Newt Gingrich just managed to say "class warfare" 4 times in a single sentence.  That would be impressive if it wasn't idiotic and terrifying.  Terriotic?

Rick Santorum is actually making sense when discussing earmarks, inevitably this means that the crowd is going to turn against him.

Seriously we've spent 10 minutes on earmarks, why?

Ron Paul getting giggly talking about how much everyone hates Congress.

Now we get to listen to all of them explain why saving the auto industry was a bad thing.

Romney: I think the auto industry needed to go through a managed bankruptcy, which is why I am opposed to do what Obama did, which was lead them through a managed I missing something here?

Commercial Break

The audience literally started booing for 20 straight seconds at the mere mention of the words "birth control." that's.....special

Gingrich: "Why didn't you question Obama on trying to legalize infanticide?"  Because that never happened?

Santorum: "Single parent households are devastating children by locking them into a cycle of poverty, which is why I oppose birth control", has anyone considered the possibility that Santorum just doesn't know what birth control actually is?

Romney: The Catholic Church would rather stop helping abandoned children get adopted than let a gay couple adopt.  I support this.  Democrats are the monsters.

Our Ron Paul Broken Clock Moment: The Morning After Pill is not an abortion pill, it's the same as regular birth control

And now our Ron Paul moment of crazy: The Federal government shouldn't be spending money on sex ed period, abstinence only or not

Romney: You endorsed me 4 years ago you bastard, how dare you attack me now! RAWR

FUN FACT: In 20 minutes of demonizing and debating birth control, none of the Republican Presidential candidates said the word "women" once.

Santorum: "Don't go bragging about something you were constitutionally required to do.  Michael Dukakis balanced the budget for 10 years does that make him qualified to be President?"  Soundbite of the night.

Ron Paul: Illegal Immigrants are trespassers, and Castle Doctrine should apply.  Because shooting the brown people is always the answer.

Romney: Arizona should be the model for immigration policy.  Goodbye Latino vote.

Santorum: Of course I'm not going to try to deport people's maids, that would be going way too far!

Describe Yourself in One Word:
Paul: Consistent
Santorum: Courage
Romney: Resolute
Gingrich: Cheerful

I stopped paying attention for 2 minutes and I come back to Ron Paul saying the Draft is coming.  What the hell happened?

Gingrich: "I'm inclined to believe dictators." -Best reason ever for him never to be given power again.

Obama killed Bin Laden and toppled Libya without losing a single American soldier, how the hell do they think they can attack him on National Security?

Romney: If President Obama is reelected we will have nuclear war with Iran.  If I am elected we will just have regular war with Iran.

It really is terrifying to listen to the Republican audience booing Ron Paul for saying that going to war in Iran is insane.

Santorum: "Prolific Proliferator of Terror," try to say that 10 times fast

Paul: "I've tried the moral argument and I've tried the constitutional argument on these issues and they don't work very well." -That's because you're speaking to a Republican audience.

I was going to try to cover this section on Education, but honestly they're just making my head hurt.  Here are the things that are apparently bad: Teachers Unions. Funding. Self-Esteem. Obama.

Last Question: What is the biggest misconception about you?

Ron Paul: That I can't win.
Newt Gingrich: I worked with Reagan
Mitt Romney: You get to ask the questions you want, I get to give the answers I want.
Rick Santorum: I can beat Barack Obama.  He's going to have more money than whoever we nominate, so maybe we shouldn't nominate a guy who can only win by outspending his opponents 10 to 1.


Immediate Reactions

  • Santorum had the best two soundbites of the night, and was probably the closest thing there was to a winner tonight
  • I don't think that the earmark attack is powerful enough to take him down.
  • Mitt Romney has either promised Ron Paul something, or has pictures.  Both are terrifying for different reasons

Video Evidence that Mitt Romney is Actually a Robot?

A little history.  I was born and raised here.  I love this state. It seems right here. Trees are the right height.  I like seeing the lakes.  I love the lakes.  There's just something special here.  The Great Lakes, but also all the little inland lakes that dot the parts of Michigan.  I love cars.  I mean I grew up totally in love with cars. It used to be in the 50s and 60s if you showed me one square foot of any part of a car I could tell you what brand it was, the model and so forth.  Now with all the Japanese cars I'm not so good at it.  But I still know the American cars pretty well.  Drive a Mustang.  I love cars.  I love American cars.  Long may they rule the world.
Now, I could make a joke here about how Mitt Romney wants cars to rule the world.  But that's a cheap and easy shot (and I have a better one).  No, the part to focus on is:

"It seems right here. Trees are the right height."

"It seems right here. Trees are the right height."

"It seems right here. Trees are the right height."


What does that even mean?  Take a cold hard look in the mirror and ask yourself, "Have I ever thought the trees here are the right height?"  And unless your name is Robby the Robot, Megaman, or Mitt Romney the answer is going to be no.

Wit of the Web Slinger Wednesday: Falling in Ponds

I'm fairly certain that Spider-Man fishing, falling in the pond, and then throwing that poor guy into the water can only be explained by him being blackout drunk.

Republican Frontrunner: Rick Santorum

Republican Racism Review: Apologies, Crack Pipes, and John and Ken

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:

Ron Paul Ad: Rick Santorum a Conservative?

Ron Paul is an insane, bigoted, racist, whose policies might actually result in the end of the world, but his ads do tend to be amusing:

West Wing Wednesday

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hostess Snack Break: The Incredible Hulk and the Twins of Evil!

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:

Okay. "The Madder Hulk Gets the Stronger Hulk Gets," so if the kids really wanted to help him, shouldn't the have stolen his fruit pies?

Purity Bear 2.0: If Sex is the Pizza, Women are the Greasy Cardboard Box?

A few weeks ago I posted a video from the Religious Right group Liberty Council promoting "The Day of Purity."  The ad basically consists of a stuffed animal, Purity Bear, telling a guy not to sleep with his girlfriend after a date, because it will be more magical if he waits until their wedding.  And hey, if you're still at the point where you're having conversations with teddy bears about life choices and seriously taking their advice, you're probably not ready for sex.  The ad was silly, I made fun of it, things were done.  And then they posted a second Purity Bear video:

Now, I'm going to ignore the fact that no one should ever sleep with anyone who says "I love you, don't you love me?" because that's just sleezy, especially on what appears to be a first date.  No, instead I want to focus on Purity Bear's advice: "Girl, I know he say he loves you, he loves pizza too, but then he dumps the box as soon as he's done with it."  So, okay yes, as opposed to the first video which shows what appears to be a committed couple (we do see them get married at the end), this video shows a guy clearly just trying to get laid.  But this is still a really messed up analogy:

The guy loves pizza, but when he's done eating it he throws away the pizza box = The guy loves sex, but when he's done sleeping with you he will dump you.  So if I remember my SAT verbal section correctly, that means that:

Pizza is to Sex as Women are to ????

A. Human Beings
B. Greasy Disposable Cardboard Boxes
C. Autonomous Adults
D. Strawberries

That's it, there's not actually some other way of interpreting this ad.  According to the Liberty Council, no man will ever actually be interested in a woman, she's just the worthless delivery system for sex and the best she can hope for is that she can delay having sex long enough for the man to enter into a legally binding contract with her, which I guess to extend the analogy would be like a hoarder creating a pizza box maze in their house because their mental illness won't allow them to throw them out.  And really, what more pure form of love is there than that?

So here's my crazy idea, if we treat sex as a normal part of any healthy adult relationship (as opposed to mythologizing it to the point where it's the only reason for a relationship and marriage), maybe religious organizations wouldn't have to create creepy teddy bear ads to tell women they're only as valuable as their virginity and we could instead try treating them as people.  Crazy, I know.

Terrific Tuesday Tidings: Judge Confirmed, Marriage Equality, and Hilarity Ensues

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:
  • Despite Republicans best efforts to grind the gears of government to a halt, Senate Democrats were able to overcome a Republican filibuster to confirm Adalberto Jose Jordan's judicial nomination to the Eleventh Circuit in a vote that went 94-5 (and yes, that means basically all Republicans voted for him when it came to a vote, they were filibustering purely to hurt Obama).  Now if Republicans would just let the other 84 vacancies be filled, we can have an actually functional Judiciary.  Wouldn't that be nice.
  • Remember when Republicans claimed the sky was falling and the world would end because President Obama decide to try the so called "underwear bomber" terrorist in a civilian court?  Well, he's been sentenced to life in prison.  So I guess Republicans were wrong about denying due process, I'm sure we'll be hearing their apology any day now.
Have a great week!

So Which Party is the Patriotic One Again?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Makeover: The General

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

February is Supporting Supervillain Month

Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong, better known as the General, first appeared in 1992's Detective Comics #654.  He was a child prodigy when it came to military history and strategy but also sadly a sociopath, and so at a very young age he was shipped off to a military boarding academy by parents who were terrified of him.  By the age of 10, the General decided that he'd learned everything he needed to and so burned the academy to the ground.  The precocious lad then headed into Gotham City where despite his age he started taking over small local gangs to turn into his own private army.  Inevitably stopped by Batman, the General proved difficult to keep in juvenile detention.  His young age and military discipline meant he was quickly (and repeatedly) released for good behavior.  Still his previous failure highlighted how poor a decision it was to make a 10 year old your leader, so he spent the next several years trying to find an adult figurehead he could use as his puppet.  After a crazed homeless man who thought he was Julius Caesar and the Toyman failed to fill that role, the General hooked up with a newly crowned Middle Eastern boy-king.  After a failed junta and attempted genocide, he found out that there's no such thing as time off for good behavior when it comes to war crimes and disappeared for a few years.  Upon his return he decided to make it his life's mission to become the Joker to Batman's Robin.  And for some reason this meant the General successively assumed the identities of Red Robin and Anarky, because when you're already a D-List Robin villain, that's pretty much a lateral move.

First the bad.  Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong kind of lost his way after his first appearance.  While I actually like the interactions between him and Robin, stealing action figures with the Toyman and then trying to commit genocide in the Middle East points to a character without a firm direction or clear scale.  And while the general stars tattooed on his head helps, the fact that he's worn a different military garb in each appearance isn't great from a branding standpoint. Personally, I'd stick to the military cadet or Revolutionary War uniforms, but really any single choice would be fine.  And finally, the less said about the whole Anarky thing the better.  Not only does it destroy a perfectly good character in the original Anarky (more on him later), but it basically eliminates the General himself, with a motivation I still do not clearly understand.

Now let's look at the good.  The General is a sociopathic military genius who has yet to hit puberty.  That's a wonderfully insane concept that really only works in comics and should be embraced.  I also can't actually think of another villain who has a military motif off the top of my head, which earns him bonus points for originality.  Next, the General is one of the better Robin rogues (more on them later) and helps give the impression that there will continue to be super-crime in Gotham long after the original Dark Knight is forced into a permanent retirement.    Finally and most importantly, the young Mr. Armstrong's original plan was good.  In a city patrolled by Batman and his army of proteges, military training and precision is a useful attribute in your henchmen.  And that's where the General's true potential as a character lies.

The General could admit that he'd suffered some early defeats in his campaign against Gotham City.  But all great leaders did.  The key was to analyze those defeats.  Clearly he had underestimated Batman and Robin and overestimated the discipline of the men under his command.  The first was a mistake that would not be repeated, and the second could be corrected with time.  And the General had plenty of time, he hadn't even hit puberty yet.  Finding the men to train wouldn't be a problem, he was an excellent recruiter, but he would need money while he trained them to perfection.  And then it hit him, not all of those he recruited would be worthy of being part of his elite guard.  That didn't mean he couldn't turn him into more than they were.  And in Gotham there was always a demand for well trained soldiers willing to take on the Batman.  After all, it wasn't like the Joker or Signalman could go down to a temp agency to hire a new crew.  Meanwhile Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong could focus on building an army worthy of being led by him.  However long it took, the General would be ready the next time he faced the Dynamic Duo, and after all, mercenaries had a long and storied place in military history.

The Worst Ad (So Far) This Year

Ok, folks.  This is the one to beat:

I wonder what it must be like to look at this ad and go "yes, that's exactly the message I want to send about my campaign."

Frontline of the Class War: Emergency Rooms, Moral Objections, and Romney's Olympics

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:
  • In case you were wondering if having the far right fall out of love with her would make Ann Coulter a better person, it hasn't: "We have socialist health care, they're called Emergency Rooms."  Now of course the funny thing about that is, as long as we're all still agreeing that ERs need to treat everyone who comes in (it won't be long till the Right abandons this one), then it's much much cheaper for society to provide everyone with free preventative care than wait until they need an ER.  Which would make socialized medicine the smart capitalist thing to do.
  • Fox's Eric Bollingis upset about the foreclosure settlement helping out "deadbeat homeowners."  Now putting aside all the cases of systematic fraud and abuse committed by the banks including forging records, who in their right mind thinks it's better to throw families out onto the streets than cut into the banks profits just a little?
  • So Republicans have their own solution to this birth control conundrum: simply allow any employer to object to any medical procedure being covered by their health insurance plan.  Among other things this would mean: "an insurer or an employer would be able to claim a moral or religious objection to covering HIV/AIDS screenings, Type 2 Diabetes treatments, cancer tests or anything else they deem inappropriate or the result of an “unhealthy” or “immoral” lifestyle. Similarly, a health plan could refuse to cover mental health care on the grounds that the plan believes that psychiatric problems should be treated with prayer."  And that's before you get to employers who realize that claiming a "moral objection" is a great way to cut down on their health insurance premiums.
  • But hey, it's not fair to judge Mitt Romney on his spectacularly bad campaign, or even his time in public office.  In fact, he's specifically told us not to, and instead we should focus on his business experience (though not the parts where he chopped up the corpses of companies and sold them off at the expense of employees), and more specifically how he saved the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics.  Which given that it now turns out cost a billion more than the '84 Los Angeles Games and $600 million more than the '96 Atlanta games, and appears to consist mostly of "pork barrel spending" probably means that Romney isn't going to want us to talk about them for much longer (also that he's not a very good businessman).  But it probably does help explain why 2/3rds of Americans think that Romney favors the Rich over the Poor and Middle Class.  Which also explains why he thinks "that entrepreneurs should ask their parents for money instead of using loans from the federal government."  Everyone's daddy ran GM right?

Glenn Beck: Poster Boy for Mental Health

One Sentence Review of Chronicle

If you've ever wondered if it's possible to make a truly great independent superhero film, Chronicle will make you believe in possibly the best "found footage" film I've ever seen (also co-star Michael B. Jordan, previously of The Wire and Friday Night Lights, is going to be huge if you didn't realize that already).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Newt Gingrich's Broken Down Campaign (Bus)

DNC SuperPAC: Pop Up Video

I feel stupid for never realizing how amazingly well Pop Up Video would work for political ads:

He-Man Woman Haters Club Report: Women in Combat, Planned Parenthood, and Birth Control

With classism, racism, and homophobia already in the mix, why wouldn't the GOP add in some sexism too:
  • This week the Pentagon announced it was easing the ban on women serving in combat zones.  This did not sit well with Rick Santorum who's concerned that "people naturally may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. And I think that’s probably, you know, it already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat. But it’s, but it’s, I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat. And I think that’s probably not in the best interests of men, women or the mission."  When someone in his campaign later realized that accusing women of having hysteria might not be the greatest soundbite, he clarified that he was worried that the men would be too distracted by the women to do their jobs, and that women are perfectly capable of "flying small planes" (presumably the big ones need to be left to the men though).
  • Meanwhile Iowa and Oklahoma are well on their way to passing unconstitutional Personhood Amendments

Can You Tell the Difference Between Rick Santorum and the Serial Killer in Se7en?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Love Lessons with Lois Lane: The Super-Family of Steel!

In much of the civilized world, Saturday night is date night. And everything I know about dating I learned from Lois Lane. So before heading out for the night, let's see what advice she has for us this week:

First comes love.  Then comes marriage.  Then comes baby in a baby carriage.  Alternatively, love is not always what you think it is, since none of the people on the cover of the comic are actually Lois Lane or Superman (I figured I'd cut off the inevitable questions at the pass).

This Primary is Never Going to End

Newt Gingrich's sugar daddy Sheldon Adelson is reportedly giving his SuperPAC an additional $10 million, which would be enough to keep the limping Gingrich campaign going at least through Super Tuesday and probably beyond.