31 October, 2009

Scozzafava Out in NY 23rd!

Dede Scozzafava has suspended her campaign in the New York 23rd District, which effectively means she has dropped out of the race. This means that the race is now officially between Doug Hoffman (NY-C) and Bill Owens (D). And all the momentum appears to be with Doug Hoffman; he may actually pull this off.

30 October, 2009

Some more math...

Lets see...

The House Health Care bill runs to 1,990 pages. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the total cost would be $1.055 Trillion Dollars. That works out to an average of roughly $53,150,754 of spending per page.

Hope they used recycled paper.

29 October, 2009

Christie, McDonnell Up, Hoffman ?

New Jersey: Corzine seemed to have garnered a brief surge in the polls a few days ago, but now appears to have stalled. As I thought would happen, supporters of independent candidate Daggett are giving their candidate a second look, and realizing that he almost certainly cannot beat Corzine, are now throwing their support behind Christie as the candidate who has the better shot of actually winning. Rassmussen has Christie up by three points; perhaps more significantly, Daily Kos (which leans Democrat about as much as Rasmussen leans Republican) also has Christie up, but only by One percentage point. Survey USA has them tied. Taken all together, I'd say the actual is somewhere around Christie +2, but considering the closeness of the race that's basically means its a toss up. The Daily Kos one is perhaps the most telling of what is happening; even leaning Democrat, Kos has Christie leading by a slim margin. Whoever manages to bring their base out the most will win that election.

Virginia: Rasmussen has McDonnell up by 13 percentage points, Daily Kos has him up by 10 points. Either way you look at it, Creigh Deeds days appear to be numbered.

New York 23rd District: By far the most interesting race in the country. Daily Kos puts Democrat Owens up by One percentage point, with Conservative candidate Hoffman just behind. Scozzafava, the Republican, is fading fast -- faded so much, in fact, that the race has basically become Owens vs. Hoffman, with Scozzafava playing the role of also-ran. And Hoffman appears to be gaining strength, while Owens support has mostly been a steady percentage. Earlier this week I predicted that the Democrat would win because Hoffman's presence would mean the conservative voters would probably split; instead, what appears to be happening is that the conservative voters are realizing that supporting a third party candidate in this case might not actually amount to throwing their vote away. Hoffman now has a real shot at winning. This race will be incredibly interesting to watch.

27 October, 2009

Warning to Mayor Daley, Todd Stroger, and Gov. Quinn

This is what happens when you keep raising tax rates: the people who actually pay the taxes wind up leaving the state to live someplace more affordable. The result? Your tax base (and consequently, tax revenues) go down.

Paying taxes may be patriotic, but paying excessive taxes is just downright stupid.

McDonnell, Hoffman Up, Christie Flatline

New York 23rd District: Another poll has come out putting Doug Hoffman in the lead, and showing Scozzafava fading fast. But like the Club for Growth poll yesterday, this one was also a partisan poll, commissioned as it was by a group which has also endorsed Hoffman. However, it did have a slightly larger sampling than the Club for Growth poll. I'm still a little suspicious, and won't really believe Hoffman has a chance unless a poll comes out from a less partisan source showing he has at least similar strength. But it could very well be that Hoffman is starting to peak at exactly the right moment. Oh, and RCP has finally started tracking the polling for this race. Thank you, RCP.

New Jersey Governor: Rasmussen has Christie up by 3 percentage points, but since Rasmussen always leans Republican I tend to lop off two percentage points on any Republican result they publish. RCP still gives the average to Corzine, but its very, very tight -- only a 0.2% advantage. I still think Christie will pull it out in the end, but it will be very, very tight regardless.

Virginia Governor: Its going to be a McDonnell blow-out. Even the Washington Post poll -- which ALWAYS leans Democrat -- shows Republican McDonnell up by 11 percentage points. And Survey USA has him up by 17 percentage points. And with Democrat Deeds going down in flames, there is the possibility that it will also tip the balance in a number of local legislative districts, as the Virginia Democratic party is already feeling thoroughly demoralized before the polls have even opened, and may not turn out to support Democratic candidates in some of the closer legislative elections.

Mike Rogers (R-MI), Opening Statement on Health Care

You all know the drill... I'm going to be in soooooo much trouble when my in-laws discover this blog...

26 October, 2009

Sounds good to me

An anonymous blogger has suggested that the Chicago City Council be slashed in half, to 25 members from the current 50. The idea has struck a cord, and now people are seriously talking about it.

News article here.

Do it. Dear god, DO IT. Then institute term limits, cap their pay, and peg any future pay increases to the rate of inflation.

Hoffman in the lead in NY-23?

I'll believe it when I see it, but according to a poll conducted by The Club for Growth, Hoffman is now leading in the NY 23rd District with 31.3%, to Owens 27.0% and Scozzafava 19.7%. Sample size is small, though; 300 likely voters. I have no idea what the average voter turnout is in that district, but that still strikes me as too small a sampling to take seriously. But with a week to go, it does make one wonder if NY23 is about to send to Congress their first non-Democrat or Republican since the Civil War.

Health Insurance's Financial Health

Hey, remember my musings a few weeks ago when I ran through the numbers and found that Health Insurance profits amounted to diddly squat when compared to the Federal budget for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid?

Looks like I overestimated their profitability.

Political Races 2009

Right now there are three political races in the country that may be a precursor of things to come in 2010: The governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey, and the race for the congressional seat in the 23rd District of New York.

The Virginia governor's race will almost certainly see a Democratic defeat. The incumbent governor, Creigh Deeds (D), is currently running about 10 percentage points behind the challenger, Robert McDonnell (R). A traditionally Republican state, Virginia leaned Democrat in the 2006 and 2008 elections, but only barely. Unemployment, economic issues, and general dissatisfaction with the Democrat-controlled government -- not to mention an inept and largely ineffectual Deeds administration -- have fueled McDonnell's rise to the top of the polls. The independents who voted for Obama now appear to be swinging towards McDonnell's way. I'd expect that the race will tighten before the polls on November 3rd, but at this point it is likely to be too little too late. RCP polling data can be found here. Verdict: Likely Republican win.

The New Jersey governor's race is closer, much closer. Incumbent Jon Corzine (D) is facing a stiff challenge by U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie (R), with a third party candidacy by conservative independent Christopher Daggett running in double digits. This race is especially interesting for those of us in Illinois, because like Illinois, New Jersey is a Democratic state that has had several major waves of arrests for political corruption in the last year, all of which involved influential members of the state Democratic party. In many ways, this election is being seen as a referendum on the political corruption in New Jersey, and incumbent Jon Corzine is on the receiving end of that anger. The ONLY thing that is saving Corzine at this point is the fact that the anti-Corzine vote is split between Christie and Daggett, since most polls have shown that were it not for Daggett in the race, Christie would be winning this race handily. More than likely, this race is going to come down to which idea the Daggett voters think is more important: making a principled statement about conservative values, or getting rid of Jon Corzine. Since Daggett and Christie are actually closer in where they stand on the issues than not (unlike, say, the differences between the candidates in the New York 23rd District), its quite possible that when the voting actually starts Daggett's base will instead vote for Christie, and console themselves by opining that at least Christie is "close enough to approximate". Current polling have Corzine and Christie in a stastical dead heat. Verdict: Republican win, but just barely. Watch for allegations of massive voter fraud in this one -- especially since ACORN has been waging an aggressive registration campaign.

New York 23rd District has been getting quite a bit of attention lately. Its the only House of Representatives seat up for grabs this year, being an election to find the replacement for John M. McHugh (R), who resigned to take the position of Secretary of the Army. And it is currently being contested by three candidates: Bill Owens (D), Dede Scozzafava (R), and Douglas Hoffman (NY Conservative Party). What's interesting about this race is that the Republican, Scozzafava, is actually considered the most LIBERAL of the three candidates, being pro-life, pro-green, and a generally pro-taxation voting record -- so much so that the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens, has actually been getting traction by campaigning as the more "conservative" candidate for this heavily-conservative district. But added into this race is Doug Hoffman, the NY Conservative Party candidate who is running on a platform of fiscal responsibility and anti-taxation. And this has essentially split the Republican voters in the NY-23. Right now Owens is leading, with Scozzafava not too far behind; however, recent polling seems to indicate that, while Owens numbers are relatively constant, Scozzafava's numbers are slipping and Hoffman's numbers are gaining. What's more, some polls indicate that the difference between Scozzafava and Hoffman is now less than six percentage points. People in New York are hopping mad at the taxes in that state, and especially with the administration of Governor Patterson; this may be their first chance to voice that dissatisfaction, and to send a message to both parties that enough is enough. Unfortunately, my gut feeling is that I don't think Hoffman is going to pull it off; he may actually surge enough to take second place, but I think the Democratic machine in upstate New York is just solid enough to benefit from a splitting of the normal Republican vote. Verdict: Democrat win, followed immediately by a very intense Owens (D) vs Hoffman (as R) fight in next year's general election.

I was just looking at the New Jersey Governor's most recent poll numbers on RCP's average. I find it interesting that, of the polls it lists, the ones that show Corzine ahead are all the polls with the smallest samplings. The larger the number of respondents, the stronger Christie's support seems to be. The only exception to this is the Monmouth/Gannett survey, which had 1,004 Likely Voters and lists the race as tied.

Be warned, folks. I'm probably going to be doing a lot of this poll watching and amateurish statistical analysis over the next year, leading up to the 2010 elections.

And yes, feel free to laugh at me while I do so.

Time to seriously consider Nuclear Power

If you run through the math, so-called "renewable" energy resources will not meet the demands of modern technology - no matter how many windmills, dams, or solar cells you build. At best, they supplement but can never surpass more traditional means of generating electricity. What's more, its well known that there is a finite limit to how much energy can be produced by using these methods -- and sadly, our current level of technology is very close to that limit. This isn't something that can be solved by improved technology; rather, its simply a limit established by the ordinary laws of physics. Which makes this current push for "green technologies" sounding more and more like "fool's gold".

It also makes the case for more investment in nuclear energy all the more important.

22 October, 2009

The Fall of the Wall

In a few weeks comes the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, probably the most shining moment of that most extraordinary year, 1989. Justifiably, the event is now being looked back upon as the important moment in history it was.

But who gets the bragging rights for setting it in motion?

Did Brinkmannship Fell Berlin's Wall? Brinkmann Says It Did

Personally, I give both gentleman praise for realizing the implications of the moment: the East German apparatchik fumbled, and they picked up the ball for a touchdown. Medal of Freedom (or the German equivalent) to them both.

Just so everyone knows where I stand

In case you had any doubt...

Nazism - Communism by D3uterium

(Unknown Artist)

19 October, 2009

Pull List for October 21, 2009

DCU Halloween Special 2009
Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #6
Justice League Of America #38
Power Girl #6
Vigilante #11

Not much this week. Of these I'm probably most interested in FCA: Dance, since I rather enjoy the Super Young Team and hope they get an ongoing. I've also enjoyed DC's past Halloween Specials, so I'm hoping this year's will be as good. The rest of the pull list is pretty much just there to keep up with current story lines.

Eminent Domain Abuse

One of the most frightening power Governments have in the United States is that of Eminent Domain. Essentially, this is the doctrine that states that all property can be seized by the State, so long as it is for the State's use and so long as the owners of that property are compensated. In the past, this has mostly been used to make way for government facilities - post offices, military bases, etc. However, in some parts of the country it is increasingly being used not for government use, but for commercial development.

Here's the scam: A developer wants to put in a shopping center on a piece of land it does not own. The owners of that land do not want to sell. But rather than finding someplace else that will sell, the developers instead go to the local city council and convince them to seize the land (usually in the guise of "economic development"), and then turn around and sell it to them. We're not just talking about economically blighted areas, but in regular, bustling suburbia. And not just individual homes, but thriving businesses, church property, etc. Essentially, if private ownership gets in the way of the plans of a politically well-connected developer, then Eminent Domain is increasingly being used as a weapon to further that developer's plans. And there is very little that home owners can do to stop it.

Think that's far-fetched? Look what's happening in New York state:

New Report Documents Widespread Eminent Domain Abuse Across New York State

This is corruption, pure and simple. I don't care what party you are affiliated with, this sort of abuse should not be tolerated no matter who is in power.

October 19, 1781 AD

On this day in 1781, Lord Cornwallis surrendered to Gen. George Washington at Yorktown, effectively ending the American Revolution and insuring independence for the young United States of America.

The Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, by John Trumbull

17 October, 2009

Pull List for October 14, 2009

Didn't post a pull list for last week.  Well, here it is, for what its worth:

Batman #691
Blackest Night: Batman #3
Booster Gold #25
JSA vs Kobra #5
Secret Six #14
Titans #18

Now if I can just have a weekend to myself where I can sit down and catch up on my comics reading...

Anarchy in the UK

Islamic extremists in the UK are planning to hold a protest on October 31 in London, calling for an end to "Democracy and Freedom" and demanding the implementation of Sharia Law in the UK.

Well, I say that if they are so desirous of an end to "freedom", then the UK government should oblige them by depriving them of it, and shipping them off to Looneybinistan or whatever.

Daily Telegraph
Daily Express

16 October, 2009

The Broken Common Bond

Yep, its another one of those kind of videos. You know the drill: I am going to be in soooooo much trouble when my in-laws discover this blog...

Goblin Bloggin'

Gobby's back... (and yes, I perfectly realize that this will make absolutely no sense to the non-comics reading segment.)

Thanks to ItsJustSomeRandomGuy

Quote of the day

From "Lessons from Chairman Mao", by Dan Freeman, on Big Government:

Is Mao an isolated case? Not likely since the same story has been repeated in so many other communist states. Or can we say that the very nature of concentration of power in the State is evil? One fundamental and misguided belief that lies at the root of not only communism, but also its more acceptable cousins, socialism and progressivism, is that the state knows what is best for us. Hence President Obama’s ongoing narrative about what he can do to help us. Progressives, having learned that the private sector is the creator of wealth, do not want to eliminate it. Rather they just want to control it, and redistribute it.

Yet the very notion of redistribution of wealth—a common theme among many of the President’s Czars and other advisors—is a fallacy. When wealth is redistributed, it is largely destroyed. In fact, if we just transferred all the wealth from the private sector to the Government, the Government wouldn’t be “rich” for very long. The wealth would evaporate as it moved from the productive, innovative, and efficient private sector to the unproductive, stagnant, and wasteful public sector.

Lessons from Chairman Mao

14 October, 2009

Kirk Leads Giannoulias in latest Poll

Its still way too early to take any polling on this race seriously, and this one is a little more suspect than most since it was actually commissioned by the Mark Kirk campaign. But the latest poll shows that the hypothetical match-up between Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias for the US Senate seat currently held by Roland Burris (D-Blagojevich) has Kirk up 42%-35% over Giannoulias.

New poll shows Kirk up over Alexi Giannoulias

Encouraging news. But mostly meaningless, considering that the election for the seat is a little more than a year away.

But the pole does show one major bit of news for Giannoulias: Mark Kirk is going to walk away with the nomination for this position, whereas Giannoulias has got a burgeoning primary fight on his hands.

The Birthers Get Slapped Down

What the Truthers ("9/11 was a government conspiracy!") are to the Left, the Birthers ("Barrack Obama was not born in the US") are to the Right. Both groups are comprised of highly partisan political chimpanzees with axes to grind, grandiose delusions of Illuminati-level conspiracies, and moronic levels of common sense. So its good to see at least one of them got the smack-down today in Federal Court:

From Yahoo:
Federal judge in Ga. sanctions 'birther' attorney

From the opinion:
Or perhaps an eccentric citizen has become convinced that the President is an Alien from Mars, and the courts should order DNA testing to enforce the Constitution (*).

(*) The Court does not make this observation simply as a rhetorical device for emphasis; the Court has actually received correspondence assailing its previous order in which the sender, who, incidentally, challenged the undersigned to a "round of fisticuffs on the Courthouse Square," asserted that the President is not human.

Taitz Sancstions Opinion - US Federal District Court

Wow. Talk about people with tenuous grasps on reality. This is Cynthia McKinnon levels of stupidity.

Beware the VAT

I will say this right now: Any attempt to impose a Value Added Tax in the US will result in a huge, monumental, tax payer revolt.

13 October, 2009

Student Loan Socialism

I am going to be in sooooooooo much trouble when my in-laws discover this blog...

Mythbusters PSA

I'm a big fan of Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel. With all of the brouhaha in the news about Swine (H1N1) Flu, it seems that Mssrs. Savage and Heineman have been recruited to do a whole series of Public Service Announcements on the various Discovery channels... in their own Mythbusters way.

For more information, go to Discover.com's 5 Myths About H1N1 page.

12 October, 2009

Quote of the day

The Quote of the Day comes from economist Jagdish Bhagwati, at the World Affairs Journal:

After two and a half centuries of this fascinating debate, I have to say that my own sympathies lie with those who have found markets, on balance, to be on the side of the angels. But I should also add that I find the specific notion that markets corrupt our morals, and determine our ethical destiny, to be a vulgar quasi-Marxist notion about as convincing as that other vulgar notion that ownership of the means of production is critical to our economic destiny.

Feeble Critiques: Capitalism's Petty Detractors

Its Gonna Be Cooooooold This Winter

We had below-freezing temperatures briefly over the weekend. And the next several days aren't going to be much better (though we evidently do warm up to the 60s briefly next week).

I've got a feeling we're going to be in for a long, long, brutal winter.

10 October, 2009

People who are (or in this case, were) far more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize #6

Candidate #6:
Ronald Wilson Reagan

Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation
Ronald Reagan Library
The Real Reagan Record -- National Review, August 31, 1992

October 10, 732 AD

Charles de Steuben's Bataille de Poitiers en Octobre 732

On this day in 732 AD, the Battle of Tours took place.

The Battle of Tours is important because it was the decisive turning point in Christianity's struggle against an invasion of Europe by Moorish and Islamic armies. Effectively, it saved Christianity for Europe and prevented Islamic forces from advancing any further then their toe-hold in Spain. Had the Frankish and Burgundian forces not prevailed, it is highly unlikely that any other military force in Europe of any consequence could have been mustered in time to stop the invasion; Europe would have certainly fallen to the Islamic invaders within a few years, and more than likely all of Western Europe would today be Muslim. For that reason, the Battle of Tours is generally regarded as being one of the few instances in which the outcome of history truly did hang in the balance.

09 October, 2009

People who are far more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize #5

Candidate #5:
Wei Jingsheng

Another prominent Chinese dissident and activist. Also currently imprisoned.

Wikipedia page: Here.

(suggestion courtesy of Moonbattery blog)

People who are far more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize #4

Candidate #4:
Hu Jia
Dissident and Democracy activist. A leader of the pro-Democracy movement in China. Currently imprisoned.

Wikipedia page here.

(suggestion courtesy of Moonbattery blog)

Breaking News!

I am in sooooooo much trouble when the in-laws discover this blog...

Around the World, Heads are Being Scratched

Sorry if it sounds like I'm harping on this, but really. It just bugs me that an award designed to honor genuine achievement is being used in such a blatantly political manner. But thankfully, I'm not the only one who is questioning the wisdom of this.

Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post

Michael Tomasky, The Guardian (UK)

Mark Phillips, CBS News

This comes off a lot like winning an Oscar for a movie that hasn't even been released yet. Even more so when you realize that the nominating process for this year's Peace Prize ended on February 1 of this year -- which effectively means that President Obama won the award based on a mere 11 days in office.

Again, do I think President Obama should have turned it down? Nope. If someone were going to give me a prestigious award with a $1.4 Million purse attached, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a reason why I shouldn't take it. But do I think this move diminishes the award? Yes, I do. Of all the people who have ever won the Peace Prize, Obama clearly has received it on the thinnest of justifications. Even among US Presidents who have won, he has done so on little basis more than his campaign theme of Hope and Change; if that were all that was needed to win, then I submit Rod Blagojevich should have won the Peace Prize in 2003.

At best, this award might be viewed as some sort of a mandate when dealing with nutjobs like Ahmadinejad, Chavez, or Kim Jong il. But frankly, I don't think any of those leaders give a rat's ass for the prize; indeed, for some it might even be taken as a sign of weakness, a signal of a willingness to appease rather than confront. Worst cast scenario, it holds Obama's future diplomacy to such impossibly high expectations that no leader can possibly meet them.

Well, what's done is done. The award has been offered and accepted, and all that now remains is to go to Oslo, meet King Harald V, and give a rousing speech. But for the future... ?

Too early. He has no contribution so far,
--Lech Walesa, former President of Poland
1983 Peace Prize Winner

Nobel Committee's Decision Courts Controversy

People who are far more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize #3

Candidate(s) No. 3:
Col. James Hickey and the members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division, US Army

On December 13, 2003, in the town of ad-Dawr in Iraq, this unit captured Saddam Hussein - and did more for World Peace in a scant few minutes than the current administration has done since it took office.

Operation Red Dawn. (Wikipedia)

The Times of London: Obama Peace Prize - WTF?!?!

Even the Times of London questions this award.

Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent. It was clearly seen by the Norwegian Nobel committee as a way of expressing European gratitude for an end to the Bush Administration, approval for the election of America’s first black president and hope that Washington will honour its promise to re-engage with the world.

Instead, the prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronising in its intentions and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun his period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace.

Comment: absurd decision on Obama makes a mockery of the Nobel peace prize - Times Online

Shared via AddThis

People who are far more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize #2

Candidate #2
Yon Goicoechea
Dissident student leader in Venezuala.  Outspoken critic of the regime of Hugo Chavez.

Information here.

People who are far more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize #1

Gonna start an ongoing feature here: People who I think are far more deserving of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize than Barrack Obama.  People who have actually done things - practical, concrete achievements - that deserve the kind of recognition that the Nobel Peace Prize is suppose to embody.

Candidate No. 1:
Dr. Darsi Ferrer Ramírez

Cuban dissident and outspoken critic of the Castro regime.  Journalist and Medical Doctor.  Arrested in 2001 after publishing a series of scathing attacks in non-Cuban publications on the human rights abuses of the Cuban government.  Currently still in prison.

President Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize

While I do think its an honor for the President, I gotta ask: Doesn't anyone think this is a tad bit premature?

He hasn't even been in office for a year, and what has he actually accomplished worthy of the prize?  Made speeches about nuclear disarmament (which is what the Nobel Committee cited)?  Heck, every President since Eisenhower has made that speech!  And the only one to actually make good on them was Ronald Reagen, and the prize committee snubbed him and gave it to the guy who surrendered.

About the only thing I can think of that Obama has done is to make people feel good about themselves -- a transitory state of affairs at best, but one hardly worthy of an award designed to honor those who have made a difference for peace.  If that's going to be your litmus test, then why not nominate the Popular Pop Star of the Moment? There are activists in China, Cuba, and elsewhere who are far, far more deserving.

Not that I think Obama should turn the prize down, no siree.  But awarding the prize for little more than to make some hamfisted political points cheapens the award, and diminishes its stature.  Its becoming the Golden Globes of the International Politics set.

08 October, 2009

The Power of the Poor

On PBS this week, a welcome rejoinder to the droll propaganda of Comrade Moore:

MESSENGER at Mercury

The MESSENGER space probe is making its third and final swing by Mercury this week.  When next it encounters the planet, it will be going into orbit.

Here's an example of the awesome imagery its sending back:

(click on the image to embiggen it!)

You can find more information about the MESSENGER Mission here.

The benefits of vaccination

Yes, I am Pro-Vax. Vaccinations do NOT cause Autism; that has been proven time and again by medical science.

06 October, 2009

Pull List for October 7, 2009

So, what's Doug picking up this week?

  • Batman and Robin #5 (DC)
  • Batman Annual #27 (DC)
  • Doom Patrol #3 (DC)
  • Justice League: Cry for Justice #4 (DC)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #29 (Dark Horse)
  • The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly #4 (Dynamite)
I've been enjoying Morrison's take on Dick Grayson as Batman.  I know this is probably an unpopular opinion in many quarters, but I for one hope Bruce Wayne stays as far away from returning to Batman as time displacement will allow.  Yes, I think its that good.  The day they return Bruce Wayne back to being Batman is probably the day I will drop the Bat-titles from my pull list.  I've also been enjoying Keith Giffen's new/old take on the Doom Patrol.  Justice League: Cry for Justice is mostly just there, but since I've already started the story with the first three issues, I might as well continue to the end; its only a mini-series, after all.  As for the other two, they've been entertaining for me so I'm sticking with both titles.

Political Prisoners in Chavez's Venezuela

The Washington Post has a good write up on the increasing use of arrests and government intimidation to stifle dissent in Comrade Chavez's Venezuala.

Remember: This marxist asshole is a hero to Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, George Clooney, Barbara Streisand, and Naomi Campbell.

03 October, 2009

More Olympics Stupidity

So if its not Obama's fault that the Olympics didn't come to Chicago (and truly, I don't believe it is), then who's fault is it?

According to our illustrious Senator, Roland Burris (D-Blagojevich), its the fault of.... (drum roll, please) (you're not gonna believe this!) (of course, who else would he blame?)... George W. Bush.

Senator Rowland Burris of Illinois, the Senator who was appointed to fill President Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat, blames George Bush for Chicago not getting the Olympics in 2016. Burris stated in an interview, shortly after the announcement, that the image of the U. S. has been so tarnished in the last 8 years that, even Barack Obama making an unprecedented pitch for the games could not overcome the hatred the world has for us as a result of George Bush.

What a moron. No, let me rephrase that. What a FUCKING moron.

We lost. We put up a good fight, but we lost. In large part because Rio played the IOC's game better than we did. There is nothing deeper to this than that. IT'S NO ONE'S FAULT.


Mark Kirk for US Senate!
The sooner we get this place holder out the better.

02 October, 2009

Obama and the Olympics

Okay, the Obama administration does get some flack around here, I'll admit that. But what the hell?!?

I understand that some people want to pin Chicago's loss on Obama. But c'mon, get real. IT'S THE FREAK'IN OLYMPICS. They're nice to have, would have been nicer still if they were in Chicago, but its hardly the end of the effing world that we didn't get them. Or that its some huge, decisive political defeat for the Obama administration. Chicago gave it their best shot, and so did the President. Doesn't mean we can't try again for the 2020 Olympics.

Geez, people. Give it a rest. There are more important things to get all bent out of shape about.

IOC Vote totals are making it pretty obvious that Chicago had no chance. Rio was going to walk away with it from the very start. The only one who really had a fighting chance was Madrid, and that was primarily because Juan Antonio Samaranch had been an IOC President and promoter of the Olympic Games for decades. His appeal to the IOC was basically "Do this for me, because I have done well for you all my life." And it almost worked.

Yes, the fix was in. But this time, Chicago wasn't the one stuffing the ballot box.

Teen Titans #75 Review


Teen Titans #75
Written by Felicia D. Henderson; co-feature written by Sean McKeever; Art by Joe Bennett and Jack Jadson; co-feature art by Yildiray Cinar and Júlio Ferreira; Cover by Joe Bennett and Jack Jadson; variant cover by Andy Clarke

First off, let me state the obvious: Felicia Henderson did not hit a home run with this issue. More like a double that got stretched out to a triple via a throwing error. The issue got close to home and has a very good shot at getting there, but whether it ends up scoring will depend on what follows. I think she did slightly worse than your average Sean McKeever at-bat, but loads better than Judd Winick striking-out swinging at a bad pitch.

The issue was basically a set-up issue, introducing the team and its concept, its principal characters, and how they relate to one another. Remember, this is the first issue of the new writer’s run, and thus responsible for the task of setting up the new status quo. Under such a situation, its generally good to assume that new era’s will mean an above-average number of new readers entering the book. Thus, this issue was primarily devoted to brief introductions to the principal characters involved, their interactions to establish how they relate to one another, some hints at the conflicts they will be facing, and where everyone will possibly be going from here on out. Now obviously, those of us who have been following this series for a very long time have all gone through this before, more times than we care to recount (especially in recent history), so to many of us this sort of thing is old hat. In that way the introductory aspect of the issue does come off as a mixed blessing - a good intro for new readers unfamiliar with the characters and wanting some idea as to who they are, but a little annoying to those of us who are already familiar with them and would prefer it if they got on with the story already. I’m willing to let it pass for the moment, but acknowledge the frustration.

The writing was mostly acceptable. A tad melodramatic at times (the panel with Gar holding an unconscious Raven’s hand and declaring his love looks and reads like it came out of a 1960s romance comic book!), but the characters generally sounded right and their personalities shined through. The humor didn’t seem forced (unlike, sadly, Pat McCallum’s Titans issue), and in general the dialogue felt natural for the characters. There were some points where the scene shifts were a little jarring (the page where we go from Jamie berating Gar to Megan in Bombshell’s room felt a little strange), something that could have been easily rectified with a few well-placed narrator boxes saying “Meanwhile...” or “Elsewhere...” or “Later...”. Hopefully, as Ms. Henderson becomes more comfortable with writing in the medium, these sort of rough edges will disappear. But for right now, while they can be a little disconcerting to follow, I don’t think they are a major impediment to the story.

As everyone around here knows, I’m a big Gar Logan fan, so I for one was pleased to see him returning to the team and taking it over. I realize that this disappoints a number of Cassie fans, but lets be honest: Cassie hasn’t really been coming off well as a leader for quite some time, long before even Eddie’s death. People around here have been bitching about it for ages. So frankly, taking the time off from the responsibility might just be the best thing for her, time to get her confidence back together and rediscover who she is. Don’t worry, she’ll be back in the saddle some day. But for right now, she’s not really going anywhere, so its not like she’s being dropped into limbo. The only part about the hand-over I mildly disliked was that I thought Gar’s little speech to the group was a little annoying, though I will acknowledge it was mostly in character for him (still, I probably would have handled it differently).

As for Raven, I was glad to see her depicted as something other than the prickly bitch established by Judd Winick. So long as we keep that interpretation strictly confined to Titans, I’ll be happy (especially now that its looking like Titans is going to be sinking into relative obscurity fairly quickly). Interested to know what this empath villain is, and suspect it’s a set-up for something that will be important to the post-Blackest Night world of the Teen Titans.

The one thing I really, really disliked about the issue was the set up of conflict between Blue Beetle and Beast Boy. I really like Jaime, and think he and Gar would get along greatly. But as Bill Walko has pointed out, for dramatic purposes it was necessary that someone question the idea of Gar as leader, and by process of elimination the most obvious one was Blue Beetle. Doesn’t mean I like it, though. What’s more, some of Blue Beetle’s objections rang hollow to me - I did not think anything Gar did was somehow detrimental to leading the team (quite the opposite, in fact). Were the situation reversed and it were Traci 13 lying unconscious in serious condition, wouldn’t Jaime be doing much the same thing? That whole sequence just seemed kind of odd. I’m hoping that this is all just set-up for Gar to prove himself to the others that he’s the right man for the job; however, I can also see that this might be the seed from which Blue Beetle’s departure from the team is being laid. I will be very unhappy if the latter is the case.

In speaking of departures, I also get the sense that M’gann is also being set up to leave, which is another departure I don’t want to see. Nevertheless, I noticed that she’s in the preview for Justice League: Cry for Justice #4, so that might be an indication of what’s going to ultimately happen to her. Personally, Bombshell and Aquagirl are the two Teen Titans I have the least interest in, so I’d rather see them go than any of the others. As for those who are still yearning for the return of Conner or Bart, be patient; I think Didio’s most recent answer session made it plain Conner at least would return once he gets booted off Adventure Comics (a move which I agree is rather bone-headed). Bart seems less likely, especially with his own book coming up, but I do think he’ll probably show up from time to time.

Also liked seeing Dr. Mid-Nite as a guest star. I get the impression that Ms. Hendeson is also a JSA fan, since her name is also attached as one of the writers of the JSA 80-Page Giant coming out later this month.

A word on the art: it seemed rushed in places, but was mostly good. I loved Gar’s “Roach with Attitude” pose; Bennett has a good eye for catching the little nuances of character. Nevertheless, he’s done better work, and hope to see more of that in the future.

Don't have much to say about the Ravager co-feature, except that I liked the scene with Ravanger and Miss Martian.

Overall, I’m giving this issue Four stars out of five, although I think my real score is closer to 3.75. A decent, acceptable start to the run, but a lot still depends on what is made of it from here on out.

Chicago Out

Word is that Chicago didn't even make it out of the first round of voting for the Olympic games. That was surprising. Will be interested to hear what the reasons were.

I think that pretty much means Rio is going to get it.

Does this mean that the IOC are a bunch of racists for rejecting Obama and Oprah?

Yep, Rio gets it.

Gonna go listen to some Mozart now. Not really in the mood to listen to all the talking heads (from both sides of the aisle) discuss why Chicago didn't get the nod.

01 October, 2009

Olympic Dreams

Well, tomorrow is the day when we find out if Chicago will be hosting the 2016 Olympics.

Do I hope Chicago gets it? You betcha. Do I think they will? Sadly, I still think this is Rio's game to lose.

The Visual Artists Guild on 60 Years of Communist Rule in China

The Visual Artists Guild released a statement after their "die-in" protest outside of the People's Republic of China embassy in New York:

Memorial to the victims of 60 years of Peoples Republic of China

On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong announced the founding of the Peoples Republic of China.

Today, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China, we mourn the deaths of 70 million Chinese who died in the greatest genocide of human history.

We mourn those killed during the violent days of land redistribution when people were agitated into murderous frenzies against their fellow human beings labeled as being landowners, rich peasants and bourgeoisie.

We remember those intellectuals who answered the call of the Hundred Flowers Movement to speak freely about their government only to find that they were trapped during the anti-rightist campaign that followed.

We demand the release of all Political Prisoners.

We mourn the 38 million men, women and children who died in the greatest man-made famine in human history as a result of the wanton disregard of human lives under Mao during the Great Leap Forward.

We mourn the millions who died during the Cultural Revolution.

We mourn the millions who were tortured and died in the laogai labor camps.

We mourn the deaths of the Buddhists, Taoists, Tibetans, Catholics, Protestants, Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghur Muslims, and many others who were persecuted and died when they struggled for their right to freedom of religion.

We mourn those who were slaughtered during the Tiananmen Massacre and the subsequent executions which followed.

We grieve with their families.

70 million human beings perished.

Such intentional behavior by the government of the Peoples Republic of China in the treatment of its citizens must not continue in the 21st century.

We demand for the people of the Peoples Republic of China their rights to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Press, Freedom of Religion and all other Freedoms as stated in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

We demand the release of all Prisoners of Conscience.

We demand that China's history record an official apology from its government for past transgressions against 70 million human beings and their families.

We look forward to a peaceful and prosperous China whose citizens will live in a nation that respects basic human rights and respects the inherent dignity of human life that all people deserve.

My condolances...

...to the People of China, who today mark 60 years of brutal repression at the hands of the Mao Dynasty.

(Huh. Roman Polanski, Mao Tze Tung... lots of child molesters in the news these days)

So let me instead take this moment to commemorate another "Great Symbol" of modern Chinese history:

P.S. - Free Tibet & Recognize Independence for Taiwan!

There. That should insure I never be allowed an entrance visa into China ever.

PSA: Listen to Overpaid Celebrities

I'm going to be in sooooo much trouble when my in-laws discover this blog...