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The political leanings of superhero comics … revealed!

No, this isn’t another post about Captain America #602. It’s partly inspired by that, but it’s much more far-reaching than that. You recall that every once in a while I like to generalize about comics in such a way that it sends people into paroxysms of rage? Well, here’s another one of those posts! They’re always fun, aren’t they?

This post was inspired more by a response to the whole Captain America thing rather than the thing itself. Back when Bill Reed wrote his “open letter” to the instigator of the conservative rage, everyone’s favorite conservative CSBG commenter (and I don’t mean that facetiously; he’s certainly my favorite), T., wrote: “For a conservative, life is very different. Pro-liberal and anti-conservative rhethoric is thrown in your face regularly, in your comics, your talk show monologues, the stand up comedy you watch, dramas and sitcoms, the newspapers. … While I do think he’s right about the liberal bias being pervasive and comics [sic], and while I do believe that there is a good chance that this incident with Captain America may not be as innocent as the powers that be claim, I think his hypersensitivity to the issue is just hurting his cause and making him come off bad.”

T. is a very interesting dude (I ought to read his blog more often; he goes days or weeks without posting, and then suddenly there’s like ten new posts, all tens of thousands of words long, and I occasionally spend hours catching up), and he’s been making this point for some time here at the blog. I don’t have an issue with the “pro-liberal and anti-conservative rhetoric” that gets thrown in the faces of comics-reading conservatives, but then he comes to “I think he’s right about the liberal bias being pervasive [in] comics” (I’m going to assume that’s what T. meant to type, and the “and” is a typo). I have to disagree. Because superhero comics (which I’m going to assume we’re talking about, because that’s what Captain America is) are fundamentally conservative. I don’t think there’s really any argument about it, and I’ll tell you why (you just knew I was going to tell you why, didn’t you?).

Let’s consider what I mean when I use the word “conservative.” The labels “conservative” and “liberal” have become so bastardized over the years that no one really knows what they mean anymore. Liberals seem to define themselves by opposing everything conservatives come up with. Conservatives, on the other hand, claim that they want smaller government and fewer taxes … unless a candidate they support wants those things. Each side has lost any moral high ground because they refuse to stick to their guns when their candidate betrays their principles. If your party is in power, the minority party’s ability to use a filibuster in “unconstitutional.” If your party is in the minority, the filibuster is the only way to prevent tyranny. So the terms are essentially meaningless anyway. Which means I get to define them! Yay!

So let’s get rid of them, shall we? If you look at the so-called conservatives and so-called liberals in power in government, the differences between them are fairly negligible. They don’t want you to believe that, but they are. So the labels we attach to them are worthless. It’s too early in Obama’s presidency to really suss out what he believes or what he’s going to do, but consider President Bush, who many liberals consider an arch-conservative (it’s telling that many on the right don’t). He began two wars because “that’s what conservatives do,” but he ignored the political reality that fighting a war means raising taxes, because he was being “fiscally conservative.” However, being “fiscally conservative” doesn’t necessarily mean not taxing the people, it means spending within your means. If you start a costly war, you better be able to pay for it. If you can’t, you turn a huge surplus (which Bush inherited) into a crippling deficit. We got the deficit because Bush didn’t raise taxes. But he forgot the other part of being “fiscally conservative” – don’t spend a lot. But that’s just an example of a so-called “conservative” acting like a so-called “liberal” (in the increase in government size, that is). There are plenty. What do all these people in power have in common? They want to preserve the status quo. This is the real division in politics – those with power, and those without. Those with it become conservative, as they want to “conserve” what they have. Those without power become “liberal” – but that’s not a terribly good term. “Radical” might be better, because they want to change the status quo. Of course, if they change it to achieve what they want, they will become conservative. It’s just the way things are. The radical on the left and the right are far more similar to each other – they both think politicians are corrupt – than they are to moderate members of their own parties. Similarly, moderate members of opposing parties are far more similar to each other than they are to the lunatic fringes of their own parties. This isn’t a radical or original notion, but it’s worth pointing out.

Come on - the dude fights Nazis all the time!

Come on - the dude fights Nazis all the time!

So what on earth does this have to do with superhero comics? Superhero comics, in the medium of American comics, represent the status quo. Therefore, they don’t change. At all. This is, again, not an original notion, but when people on the right talk of comics pushing a liberal agenda, they’re missing the point. Yes, most comic book writers are liberals. I can think of two conservative ones off the top of my head – Bill Willingham and Chuck Dixon (Frank Miller falls into a whole separate category – “batshit insane”). I imagine there are others, but those are the famous ones. So these liberal comic book writers have their characters spout liberal propaganda (if you’re a conservative) or common-sense wisdom (if you’re a liberal). But this isn’t about what a particular writer has a particular character say or do. Unless it’s a creator-owned property, some other writer can come along and use the character to spout different propaganda. Now, given the propensity of liberal writers, the propaganda will probably be the same, but it’s not necessarily true. Good writers can get away with changing Peter Parker, say, from a brain-dead liberal to a mouth-breathing conservative fairly easily. It’s when the propaganda is blatant that the other side gets upset. Of course, superhero comics aren’t known for their subtlety, so very often, the propaganda is blatant, which is what upsets the other side – in this case, conservatives.

But should they be upset? Yes, they’re “bombarded” by simpering lefty propaganda, but that’s just text. Everything has subtext, even superhero comics, and the subtext is all conservative. Let’s take Captain America as our first example. I haven’t read the infamous issue because I buy my Brubaker Cap in handy, Giant-Sized Omnibus form, so I’ve only read through issue #42 (and they’re already up to #602? shit). But let’s consider the run in general. I like it a lot, but it’s extremely conventional. It maintains the status quo. The two big baddies in the run are a Nazi and a Communist. Come on, that’s a conservative’s dream villian match-up! And they share a body, too! Although Brubaker stretches things out over several years, it’s interesting how “superheroic” the run really is – despite all the machinations, Steve and then Bucky simply end up punching people out. Bucky himself, one half of the bête noire of Captain America #602, rebels against the Communists. I mean, can you get more American and therefore traditionally “conservative”? I’ll get back to the fact that Lukin/Skull uses a capitalistic corporation in an attempt to destroy America, because it’s important. But for the most part, Brubaker’s Captain America, like every other superhero comic, is about maintaining the status quo.

NAZIIIIIIIISSSSS!  It's right there on the cover - he's evil!

NAZIIIIIIIISSSSS! It's right there on the cover - he's evil!

Maintaining the status quo has been what conservatives claim to favor for years, but as I’ve argued above, it’s not a conservative/liberal thing. The reason the Tea Party isn’t conservative is because what they are advocating isn’t conservative, it’s radical. From their mission statement: “The impetus for the Tea Party movement is excessive government spending and taxation. Our mission is to attract, educate, organize, and mobilize our fellow citizens to secure public policy consistent with our three core values of Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets.” Those three things sound perfectly groovy, but here’s the point: the way they lay them out and claim what they want is extremely radical. There’s never been a country like it in the history of the world, even in the glorious days of the Founding Fathers (which they reference often). The closest, perhaps, that anyone has ever come is the pre-Constitution days of the Articles of Confederation, and that almost destroyed the country. What the Tea Party wants is a complete utopia, as utopian (and therefore as unsustainable) as the craziest hippie commune of the 1960s. They aren’t conservatives. They’re radical idealists. There’s nothing wrong with being a radical idealist (I would love to have true anarchy in this world, for instance), but you can’t have any sort of government based on it. Ask the French of the early 1790s about it. Or the Chinese of the 1960s.

But back to superhero comics. No superhero comic from Marvel or DC is liberal in the truest sense of the word, challenging the status quo. Occasionally writers from outside the mainstream superhero world write a superhero comic that does challenge the status quo. What do they often come up with? A left-leaning dictatorship, much like Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China. This is perhaps the consequence when superheroes take over – they are really the ultimate in “governmental involvement” in people’s lives, because they are, by their abilities, “better” than everyone else. So they set the rules, usually very undemocratically (they can’t trust the regular folk to know what’s good for them, can they?). They take resources away from the few and distribute them, free of charge, to the many. And guess what? They never last. Something happens to corrupt them. The superheroes may be the “good guys,” but they come to realize that taking over is not the way to go and the people have to decide for themselves. Why, that’s the very essence of the conservative ideal! The status quo, in other words, must be sustained. When superheroes challenge it, things go to pot rather quickly. The one change to the status quo that I can think of that didn’t lead to counter-revolution and disaster is Joe Casey’s in Wildcats. Why? Spartan challenged the status quo by using a corporation. His business practices changed the world, and conservatives love when new business opportunities bring about positive change.

How radical!

How radical!

This gets back to the Kronas Corporation and Lukin’s attempt to “buy America.” I’m sure many conservatives would look at this as an anti-business screed by Brubaker, and maybe that’s what he intended it to be. But it’s not. I’ve often pointed out that business, the conservative’s best friend, is poorly represented in comics, but I’ve been convinced otherwise. Big business itself is rather neutral. The Kronas Corporation isn’t evil because it’s a business; it’s evil because it’s run by an evil dude. Brubaker might be pointing out that all big businesses are run by evil dudes, but that’s a stretch. All the evil corporations in Marvel and DC might partake in evil things, but it’s all because the people running them are evil, in a completely comic-book way – that is, ostentatiously evil. And the good corporations in Marvel and DC are good because good people are running them. We don’t really get a good portrait of big business in superhero comics, because they’re so closely tied to the people who run them that we can see them as “good” or “evil” based on the person in charge. Consider the two big moguls in Marvel and DC: Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne. We know very little about the day-to-day running of their businesses – probably a bit more about Stark, because his business is a bit more tied to his superhero identity – but it seems like they’re typical, relatively conservative businessmen. Yes, they do business as imagined by a “liberal” writer – they figure out ways to work “green,” for instance – but they always have an eye toward making money, and from what little we know about Bruce Wayne, he believes in the “conservative” way of charity – that it comes from rich people who have good hearts, and not from the government. Many rich folk in the Marvel and DC worlds make their money by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps – obviously, this doesn’t hold for someone like Bruce Wayne, but a lot of the other people in the two universes are smart people who succeed in business because the capitalistic society in which they live allows them to succeed. If that’s not something conservatives believe in, I don’t know what is. So while we hear a lot rhetoric from the liberal writers of superhero comics about how horrible big business is, once again the subtext bears out that it’s mostly veneer. At their core, the businesses of the Big Two are neutral – it’s all about who’s in charge. If it’s Justin Hammer, the business is eeeeeevil. If it’s Ted Kord, it’s good.

Marvel has always been a bit more concerned with “real-world” stuff than DC, and this decade they’ve tried to be even more “relevant” (as relevant as superhero comics can be, that is, which isn’t much). The axis around which the Marvel Universe has revolved for most of the decade is Civil War, which many people read incorrectly. It’s not traditional right-wingers who “won” the Civil War, it’s traditional left-wingers. This may sound insane to you, but it’s true. Many people read Civil War as a parallel of Bush’s expansion of governmental power due to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, which isn’t a terrible interpretation. However, it’s not the best analogy. While the terrorist attacks occurred in the Marvel Universe, they had absolutely no impact (Civil War, you’ll recall, began five years after 2001 and two years after the Iraq war began, and jokes about Steve McNiven’s slowness aside, that’s too long to draw a completely accurate parallel). Civil War was spurred on not by a terrorist attack, but by a supervillain losing control of his powers. The closest analogue in the real world would be gun control. People have guns and many of them have no idea how to use them. So the government wants to control the flow of guns and people’s ownership of them. Who is in favor of gun control? Liberals. So the government in Civil War is, despite being headed by George Bush (or someone who looks a lot like him), doing what today’s liberals want: Controlling things that are “too dangerous” for people left to their own devices. Conservatives should have been on Captain America’s side in Civil War: The government has no right to step in and control these people, especially because guns (or superpowers) aren’t inherently evil – it depends on the person using them. The triumph of Iron Man and the government in Civil War is a triumph of the nanny state. I remember some of the kerfuffle over Civil War when it came out. Conservatives whined that Marvel was showing the government of George Bush as fascist. Perhaps they should have thought about it a bit more. Civil War is a classic example of a government that thinks it knows best trying to regulate what people can do with their lives. And yet conservatives thought Marvel was picking on them. A bit silly, really.

Damned hippies, trying to control our God-given right to superpowers!

Damned hippies, trying to control our God-given right to superpowers!

Finally, let’s consider the entire idea of costumed superheroes, which is based on the idea that you can’t trust the government to take care of crime. Batman, throughout his history, has always leaned a bit toward fascism, with his absolute black-and-white attitude toward crime. I’ve argued before that Bruce Wayne could do far more to stop crime as Bruce Wayne than Batman, but while, pragmatically, that wouldn’t work for DC’s bottom line, Bruce is also the classic “liberal who’s been mugged” type of conservative. He doesn’t trust the police to make the city safe, so he takes the law into his own hands. He’s not that different from the Minutemen, to use a recent example. Superman specifically adopts a “conservative” viewpoint that humanity needs to rise themselves, without help from outside agencies like a Kryptonian alien. As I wrote above, most liberal writers can’t come up with any better government when superhumans take over than a left-wing dictatorship, which is what would happen if Superman decided to fix all the world’s problems. He is conscious of this ideal and therefore uses a relatively conservative viewpoint – each according to his or her means – to justify not going around solving world hunger. Again, this is because of DC’s bottom line, but in this regard, fictional universe concerns overlap with real-world publishing concerns – the superheroes must remain “conservative” so that DC and Marvel can keep publishing them.

Miller craps all over so-called liberal ideas in this

Miller craps all over so-called liberal ideas in this

I’m not going to argue against the idea that superheroes often speak in liberal-talk. They do. With corporate superheroes, however, that doesn’t matter. Conservatives may feel “bombarded” by liberal propaganda in the media, but I would argue that the vast majority of Americans – and people in general – fall somewhere in the middle. If we imagine the political spectrum as a bell curve, the two extremes would be the Tea Party on the right and, I don’t know, ACORN on the left. Most people want nothing to do with either extreme. They want to be left alone to live their lives, and generally get along with a vast range of people with slightly different political views. The labels mean nothing because you can’t get a consistent answer from the two sides. Conservatives say they want government out of their lives but want government to tell women what to do with their bodies and who we can marry. Liberals say they’re more tolerant but shout down opposing viewpoints. Everyone wants more shit from the government but no one wants to pay for it. But most people fall in the middle, and the arguments they have are just spice. Those people – both “conservatives” and “liberals” – are the true conservatives. The people on the extreme are the radicals. Superhero comics reflect that. They pay lip service to liberals because artistic people tend to be more left-leaning. But they remain conservative because most readers are, by and large, happy with the status quo. Even the most radical of superhero books fall into a conventional framework. Even the most radical of comic books in general fall into a conventional literary framework – which is true of most art. Very little pushes the boundaries, and superhero comics certainly are not the place for it. The idea that superhero comics push a liberal agenda might make angry conservatives happy, but it’s just not true. Sorry!

Talk about a left-wing dictatorship!

Talk about a left-wing dictatorship!

I want to stress that there’s nothing wrong with comic book writers pushing liberal propaganda or superhero comics being relatively conservative. I suspect that most people who read this blog, like most of the population in general, believes in a mix of conservative and liberal ideas. I have no problem paying taxes, but I bemoan the bureaucracy that has been created that uses the taxes I pay idiotically. I think we’d all be better off if we got rid of income taxes, which is what the Tea Party wants, but I think we should raise taxes on other things to make up the difference. I am against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I believe that the United States should learn from our history in places like Haiti or Cuba and fight “small wars” better, because we often need to use military force. I think women should have the right to choose what to do with their fetus. I think gay people should be able to get married because there’s no reason they shouldn’t, and people who say it’s a threat to traditional marriage should probably check the history of marriage. I think government should try to help the poor, but they should also try to get them off welfare as soon as possible. I am firmly inside the mainstream of American society, leaning a bit to the left, but still very moderate. And that’s pretty much what superhero comics are. Writers definitely pick on the extreme right more than they do the extreme left, but that’s probably because the extreme right is currently more politically focused than the extreme left. It’s easier to make fun of the Tea Party than it is the mish-mash on the left. When the left was more focused, Marvel made fun of them – specifically, the anti-war protesters during “Secret Invasion.” Did they apologize for that?

I’ll wrap this up by saying that while I understand conservatives’ objections to the way they’re portrayed in superhero comics, that’s very much a facile reading of superhero comics. Conservatives will always be the butt of jokes in superhero comics because of the writers writing them and the general lack of subtlety in superhero comics. And I even understand that it can become annoying when it’s constant, even though I don’t think it’s as prevalent as some people do. The dichotomy between what writers say in superhero comics and what superhero comics actually are is fairly interesting, though. Writers can have superheroes spout liberal thoughts all they want, but they can’t change the fact that superhero comics are conservative, and always will be conservative. Conservative people should take comfort in that even if, on the surface, they’re getting picked on. Liberal propaganda will never overcome that, no matter how hard those socialists try!

307 Comments

Good piece, but its just going to get picked apart, intentionally misinterpreted, and used against you and other people regarding the subject.

This was an awesome read.

Good piece, but its just going to get picked apart, intentionally misinterpreted, and used against you and other people regarding the subject.

You believe in advance, before a single person responds, that the only way a conservative can make a counterargument against a liberal is to “pick apart” and “intentionally misrepresent,” that there’s no way a conservative could or would disagree using valid points and logic? Because if so, you need to get off your high horse because that’s an intentional misrepresentation right there.

Sorry, that Anonymous was me.

You’re expecting an awful lot of analysis by the average comic book fan, most of whose brain cells are consumed with whether something Batman said in Detective Comics in 2009 contradicts an item of continuity from an episode of Super Friends. I can’t argue with your analysis here, not because I agree with it, but because I can’t really follow it. Once you redefine conservative and liberal enough, you can make either one mean anything you want.

Let’s suggest another continuum. Statist vs. Individualist. A statist believes that the government should be able to control anything an individual does in the name of meeting the objectives of the state. An individualist believes that a person should be able to do anything he wants without interference from the government. I imagine there are a few people at the poles there, but most of us fall in the muddy middle. Democrats are Statist about certain things: taxes, guns, political correctness, environmental issues. Republicans are Statist about morality, the military, religion, etc. Fascists are Statist about everything. Anarchists are Individualist about everything.

Libertarians (at least in the way I identify with them) are mostly individualist about everything, but recognize the need to coordinate in limited ways for the greater good, and to restrict individual rights when the exercise of those rights impedes someone else’s exercise of his rights. Laws are designed to decide whose rights trump whose when they conflict. Of course, the most vitriolic case of conflicting rights is abortion, unless you assume that the fetus has no rights. That’s an assumption that you can choose to make, but I look at it this way. If the fetus is a person (or, to put it another way, at the moment that it becomes a person), then obviously its right to live trumps the mother’s right not to have a baby (unless her life is also at stake in the process). If the fetus is not a person (or up until the moment before it becomes a person), the mother can do whatever she wants with it.

My problem is that we have a hard time knowing when the fetus becomes a person. Some people think it’s at the moment of conception. Some people think it’s when it takes its first breath outside the womb. Some people think it’s “viability” – when it could medically survive on its own. Wherever you draw that line, that’s when it changes from a fetus without rights to a person with rights. I personally have no idea when that happens, although I suspect it’s between conception and viability. But as long as I don’t know, I feel like we should err on the side of preserving life. The potential harm to the fetus if we guess too late is greater than the potential harm to the mother if we guess too early. So I choose to guess early.

And now we can have 100 comments about abortion. Just remember, you brought it up!

Steven R. Stahl

March 1, 2010 at 2:59 pm

There’s a simple way to separate classical conservatives from classical progressives. Progressives believe that the government should solve problems; conservatives believe that the government is the problem. Politicians are often described as conservative/Libertarian, but hardly ever as progressive/Libertarian. Progressives have an easier time responding to requests from constituents, because the requests are often for assistance of some sort. Campaigning on the basis of less federal funds for the district, less spending overall, etc., can appeal to voters who are generally well off but when a problem comes up that can only be fixed with funds, and if the problem is expensive — so much for fiscal conservatism. The general policy doesn’t fit the specific problems.

Politics is only a problem in superhero stories when an underpowered hero fights underpowered villains, with the hero coming off as a freelance cop who has to decide to do with the villain he’s subdued. Whenever a villain is capable of killing thousands of people instantly, destroying a city, or destroying the world, politics isn’t an issue. Defeat the menace, whatever it is, or die. Such menaces have been mostly absent from Marvel comics for several years.

The idea of superheroes taking over and running things is generally faulty realism, especially if the heroes don’t exist outside of the U.S. If each nation on Earth had paranormals, and those paranormals were loyal to their governments, then their natural self-interest would prevent global takeovers. The paranormals wouldn’t necessarily fight proxy wars, but they could.

Writing superheroes as SF, constructing solid rationales for their powers, filling in their backgrounds, and only doing one or two novels per year would result in stories so concerned with the details of the hero’s daily life, the particular menace he was facing, etc., that politics wouldn’t be relevant unless the writer made them relevant.

If a writer chooses to eliminate politics from his stories or to treat politics in a nonpartisan fashion by having a politician be corrupt, in cahoots with a villain, he can do so fairly easily. Choosing to use groups that can be identified as either progressive or conservative, and portraying only one type negatively, is unlikely to be coincidental.

SRS

That was well-written, Greg. A very considered discussion.

Very nice read. And I think even though this will probably cause debate, there’s one thing you wrote that we can all agree on, “Frank Miller falls into a whole separate category – “batshit insane”.”

Agreed. I tend to be centered myself leaning left on some items (anti-war/health care reform needed) and conservative on others (anti-union/for free enterprise), but politics of any kind entering into comics tends to annoy me even though I tend to believe in the right of the writer to do it (Joe Kelly’s JLA is an example, issue #83 in particular…I don’t need the Iraq war commentary in my super hero comic). But then, if I really don’t like it, I can make a choice to not buy it and tune it out…there is a matter of personal choice here; if I don’t like how a writer portrays religion in his/her work, for example, then I can make a choice to not buy his book instead of issuing protests and complaining about how unfair it is in an attempt to shut down his/her free speech rights.

That’s what gets lost. Like I said elsewhere, we only care anymore about winning or losing the argument, so I’m sure someone will take issue with what you wrote even though there’s a ton of evidence to support your points and you’re not even saying that “conservatives are right/wrong” or “liberals are right/wrong”.

Solid article. Thanks for writing it.

Not that anyone asked, but…

Jefferson “Black Lightning” Pierce is a Northern Liberal Baptist. He’s conservative and deeply religious in his personal life, but doesn’t expect his religious beliefs to be the law of the land.

Among current/recent issues…

He is FOR equal rights for gays in marriage and the military and everything else.

He is FOR universal health care.

He was reluctantly FOR the war in Afganistan and AGAINST the war in Iraq.

He has voted Democratic in almost all Presidential elections and has never voted for a Bush.

He’s not happy that the Democrats turned out to be such pussies after they were given the White House and majorities in Congress. He thinks they have an obligation to fix the mess the Bush administration made of this country.

Okay, that should be enough to generate all kinds of nasty comments. Which I plan on ignoring.

Bwah-ha-ha!

I don’t think the notion that conservatives support the status quo and liberals challenge it can be supported by any evidence, at least since the end of the 19th century. Liberals strongly support some aspects of the status quo, like social security and progressive taxation in the US, that conservatives are more likely to challenge.

A truer summary would be to say: conservatives generally support limited government intervention in the economy and high levels of government intervention to support traditional values, along with a military-focused foreign policy and punishment-oriented justice system. Liberals generally support higher levels of government intervention in the economy to promote equality and help the poor, but think that government shouldn’t enforce traditional values, and support diplomacy and law-focused foreign policy and a rehabilitation-oriented justice system.

There are plenty of people who don’t fall entirely into either camp, but as stereotypes of the two camps that’s reasonable I think. I have no idea where superheroes fall here, but I guess their position of law and order skews them somewhat conservative.

i’ve read many people saying Batman is a Democrat, but that’s always seemed idiotic (because nothing says Democrat quite like a rich white man with no respect for miranda rights who doesn’t trust the government to get anything right), so it’s nice to see that someone else get this.

One point I think you missed out on is that the (stereotypical, of course) conservative world view is black and white, while the liberal one is in shades of gray. Bush called out the axis of evil and started a couple wars, while Obama is open to talks with Iran and all. And superhero comics, at some point, are about punching the bad guy in the face, so the vast majority of them have to have a good guy and a bad guy pretty clearly defined, or else the punch to the face won’t be satisfying. And nobody wants to read 15 pages of Superman negotiating with Lex Luthor anyway.

T.- was that a joke? Picking apart and intentionally misinterpreting a comment about other people picking apart and intentionally misinterpreting a different commentary. If so, it’s very funny.

thomas narcejac

March 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I think that some of your points are valid. I kind of agree that the concept of a superhero is conservative right from the get go. It reminds me of how when you break down the politics of Watchmen you realize that every major character is a conservative. Or as (the very left-wing) Alan Moore once stated “Superheroes are fascists”.

Amazing article, Greg. Well thought out and expressed.

Alan Moore’s Miracleman is really the Alpha and Omega regarding what superheroes are all about and what would happen if they existed in real life. Moore took that idea and pushed it towards its logical conclusion.

Still, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love superhero comics and always will.

“For a conservative, life is very different. Pro-liberal and anti-conservative rhethoric is thrown in your face regularly…”

Because reality is progressive. Nature continues to progress and change, as do all creatures in nature. It is only conservative humans who try to stay locked in the past.

Adam Weissman

March 1, 2010 at 3:31 pm

This post was inspired more by a response to the whole Captain America thing rather than the thing itself. Back when Bill Reed wrote his “open letter” to the instigator of the conservative rage, everyone’s favorite conservative CSBG commenter (and I don’t mean that facetiously; he’s certainly my favorite), T., wrote: “For a conservative, life is very different. Pro-liberal and anti-conservative rhethoric is thrown in your face regularly, in your comics, your talk show monologues, the stand up comedy you watch, dramas and sitcoms, the newspapers. … ”

Waaaaaahhhhhhh!

http://www.oliverwillis.com/2009/12/14/video-keith-olbermann-explains-the-liberal-media-bias/

T., do you honestly believe that you’re alone in having to deal with rhetoric from the opposite side on a regular basis? That’s just the nature of living in a media-heavy era. Pro-conservative rhetoric gets thrown about just as frequently, and I think it’s kind of ridiculous to act like you’re being more victimized than the other side.

don't worry about it

March 1, 2010 at 3:33 pm

I thought it was funny that he bothered to post a second post just to claim his anonymous post with ‘T’, which is just as vague. He’s a funny guy.

Good piece, but its just going to get picked apart, intentionally misinterpreted, and used against you and other people regarding the subject.

You believe in advance, before a single person responds, that the only way a conservative can make a counterargument against a liberal is to “pick apart” and “intentionally misrepresent,” that there’s no way a conservative could or would disagree using valid points and logic? Because if so, you need to get off your high horse because that’s an intentional misrepresentation right there.

Ummm . . . I am hoping that this response is intended as a joke, because, ironically, (or intentionally humorously) it’s been given a slant I never intended. My comment wasn’t directed at any particular group.

I think we could identify a few mainstream superhero comics with liberal leanings: WONDER WOMAN under George Perez and Phil Jimenez, DAREDEVIL’s emphasis on social justice, the X-Men’s occasional call for a human/mutant partnership. Other than that, you’re basically right.

I could go on and on about this subject, and already have:

Why doesn’t Superman end world hunger rather than trying once and giving up?

http://www.bluecorncomics.com/givingup.htm

Why doesn’t Green Lantern use his power ring to eliminate poverty, crime, and oppression?

http://www.bluecorncomics.com/gl.htm

Why is Batman patrolling alleyways for muggers when he could be a world-changing philanthropist a la Bill Gates or Warren Buffett?

http://www.bluecorncomics.com/bgates.htm

Etc.

If comics were actually liberal, superheroes would be changing the world a la the excellent SQUADRON SUPREME maxi-series or BIG TOWN mini-series. The fact that these remain “alternate universes” with no effect on the “real” universe proves the point.

Then we could get into the racial issues: specifically, the lack of minority superheroes who are leading teams or headlining their own titles. Not to mention the racial stereotypes that continue to afflict groups such as Native Americans.

The US population is 30% nonwhite, so why isn’t that reflected in comics? Why don’t we see minority heroes like the Falcon dealing with minority issues 30% of the time? When a comic like CAPTAIN AMERICA dares to take an explicitly liberal stance, why does it get shouted down by the conservative blogosphere?

Answer: Because comics are all about preserving the (white) American status quo, as you said.

I usually split both sides into Fiscal and Social; I usually catagorize myself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal. I think comics certainly support a socially liberal viewpoint – comics were one of the first media sources to advocate for more social justice and acceptance towards racial and religious minorities. Superheroes exist to help those who can’t (not won’t) help themselves, against crime, against tyranny, against oppression. Increasingly they’re shown to be perfectly accepting of sexual minorities as well, to the point that it doesn’t even deserve comment or a spotlight.

“Pro-liberal and anti-conservative rhethoric is thrown in your face regularly, in your comics, your talk show monologues, the stand up comedy you watch, dramas and sitcoms, the newspapers.”

It’s not so much thrown in your face as “it’s what you’re looking for”. Same as the pro-conservative bias. There’s a very basic bias — they will show you what makes them money — and a lot of individual biases, but the overall tilt is largely in the eye of the beholder, because there’s so much media that you have to be selective about what you’re including in your appraisal.

I can definitely appreciate what Greg was going for, but I have to agree with David. The big problem here is that I can’t accept his premises, the liberals want to change the status quo and conservatives want to keep it. The modern status quo includes a whole bunch of entitlements like LBJ’s Great Society, state intervention into a bunch of areas, high taxes and other things many conservatives hate. These are things in the status quo conservatives want to end. Look at how GW Bush tried to recently change the status quo when he tried to change Social Security for example.

I concur with David’s statist vs. individualist paradigm.

P.S. Superheroes such as Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, the Martian Manhunter, Hawkman (Thanagarian version), and Aquaman have little or no excuse for being loyal to America or serving its interests. In fact, I’d call it a violation of Superman’s, Green Lantern’s, and Wonder Woman’s oft-stated beliefs to care about one country more than than the rest of the world. In Steven Stahl’s “proxy war of paranormals,” these three should be fighting for the world, the United Nations, or whoever AGAINST the West’s narrow interests.

Fantastic blog, extremely well thought out!

I consider myself a moderate liberal… which could mean a lot of things, depending upon who you ask. But, really, I have as little tolerance for ultra-liberals as I do arch-conservatives.

Really, if you go far enough to the right or far enough to the left, you eventually end up in exactly the same place. Nazi Germany was ultra right wing. The Soviet Union was ultra left wing. In practical terms, there was very little difference between the two. Hitler and Stalin were both examples of the absolute worst of humanity. Once you get to the point where you’ve invaded numerous neighboring countries and murdered several million of your citizens, well, political labels are pretty damn meaningless.

Also, it’s a hell of a lot easier to criticize the current ruling political party than it is to come up with actual workable solutions to national problems. And both the Democrats and the Republicans are equally guilty of that sin.

One last thing: the idea that most, if not all, problems can be solved by beating the crap out of the “bad guy” and then sending him off to jail is an extremely conservative, law & order mindset. So while most Marvel and DC superheroes may talk the liberal talk, they usually walk the conservative walk. Which means that trying to discern any clear-cut, coherent political message from mainstream superhero comic books is a fool’s errand.

For what it’s worth, I always thought the politics of the JLA broke down as follows–

Green Arrow– Liberal. Based on Robin Hood, the first socialist hero.

Hawkman– Conservative. A policeman with no patience for criminals. A military “hawk”

The Atom– Probably Liberal. A scientist who seems to have secular atheistic views.

Green Lantern– Conservative. Military guy from a military family. Geoff Johns even had him quoting from John Mccain’s autobiography.

Wonder Woman– Liberal. A feminist with pacifist inclinations (although she has a conservative streak as indicated by her encounter with Maxwell Lord)

Flash (Barry Allen)– Not sure. But I’d guess Liberal. Again, most scientists tend to be progressive.

Batman– Law and Order Conservative. Would waterboard terrorists without a second thought. On the other hand, he’s definitely not a member of the NRA.

Superman– Nonpartisan. He’s too perfect to get involved in such petty matters. (although Lois is definitely a conservative)

Nazi Germany was ultra right wing.

I think trying to call Nazi Germany ultra right wing or ultra left wing is just a recipe for discussion disaster. There is a case for both sides and anyone trying to assert one side or the other just causes a comments section to obsess over that one argument to the expense of all other discussions.

By the way, I do not often agree with T, but I enjoy reading both his posts here, and at his blog, because they are extremely well written and they actually make me think.

Wayne, I also consider myself socially liberal and fiscally conservative. But I don’t think (superhero) comics support a socially liberal viewpoint. Alan Moore was right, superheroes are fascists, and if they existed in real life they wouldn’t do it to protect the little guy, but to punish the guilty that the “liberal” system fails to (for sometimes very good reasons). I doubt they’d be the champions of the religiously or sexually persecuted.

Greg, I agree with your premise totally, but I think making a distinction between radical and reactionary would have made for a more effective argument.

Look at how GW Bush tried to recently change the status quo when he tried to change Social Security for example.

Not for nothing, T, but didn’t this include expansion of Medicare and putting money in an already shaky stock market right before things really hit the fan?

The line “government is the problem” was a cute one-liner when it started making the rounds, but I think anyone could say “unregulated markets are the problem” and have an equally defensible point.

And what Ben Herman said at 4:03pm.

Green Arrow– Liberal. Based on Robin Hood, the first socialist hero.

Yeah, and he’s also an arrogant, self-righteous so-and-so (insert the profanity of your choice here) who only became a liberal and a socialist after he lost his fortune. As I said, I tend to lean to the left, and I cannot stand Ollie most of the time. Whenever he opens his mouth, I usually end up recalling a snarky line of dialogue from the “Fat Guy Strangler” episode of Family Guy…

“Tell me, is it lonely up there on your pedestal?”

I love how every form of media, expression, news, opinion, political commentary, or plane of reality in existence has a liberal bias to conservatives. I agree with you — it must be hard being a conservative. Glad I’m a liberal.

It’s not accurate to say that conservatives try to maintain the status quo. More often they’re attempting a return to “the good old days”, some mythical golden age. They talk a lot about the Founding Fathers, but ignore the fact that these men were the left-wing radicals of their day.

Not for nothing, T, but didn’t this include expansion of Medicare and putting money in an already shaky stock market right before things really hit the fan?

What’s your point? I never mentioned whether it was a good idea or not, just that it’s an example of changing the status quo. My point is that no party has monopoly on changing or retaining the status quo. Both parties do both depending on the issue.

It was MY comment huh? LOL Great article. I didn’t read the whole thing. But I agree with a lot of it. You articulate your points well. That writer still took a shot at conservatives though. But that’s the point. But I mean, we get this anti-conservative propaganda on every flip of the channel, and if we bark back we come off bad? I disagree. I think you disagreed too. Not sure. But yeah, it is what it is.

I enjoyed this piece a great deal; very thoughtful and insightful. i don’t agree with all of it, but the general thrust is spot on.

I have to say though, I do get a little irritated when people keep repeating the notion that comic book writers are overwhelmingly left wing- while there *is* a definite imbalance, but it doesn’t seem as pronounced as many would have us believe, at least to me. I can add two conservative writers to your list, Greg, straight off the top of my head- Chuck Dixon and Mike Baron. Granted, Baron hasn’t done anything for the big two for a long time, but he wrote the main Punisher title at the height of it’s popularity, and Dixon was pretty much guiding the Batman franchise for about a decade.

Seems to me that *most* comic book writers fall more in that middle ground you talk about- they might push certain ideas forward that are seen as one thing or another, but when you add them up, the full picture falls in neither camp- take Greg Rucka for example: staunch supporter of the rights of women and minorities of every stripe, yet seemingly also very much a supporter of military interventionism. Where does he sit on the spectrum?

Both sides of the political debate in our culture can be prone to something of a persecution complex, but it seems to be far more pronounced on the right in recent decades. If you watch Fox news and complain about a liberal media bias, you really need to have a look at yourself, you know?

But then, I would say that, I’m a radical socialist, apparently I’m pert of the ruling elite…

Well so far, Mr. Burgas, all the liberal commentors are agreeing with you and the conservative commentors aren’t. You get to keep your liberal cred for another day.

I love how every form of media, expression, news, opinion, political commentary, or plane of reality in existence has a liberal bias to conservatives. I agree with you — it must be hard being a conservative. Glad I’m a liberal.

Ah, the “snarky sarcasm as an intellectual counterargument” school of debate. Just restating the liberal media claim with a healthy dose of sarcasm doesn’t somehow magically debunk the claim.

No wonder liberals think Stephen Colbert is a “genius.”

Andrew Gerber

March 1, 2010 at 4:45 pm

I think it’s great that Tony Isabella spelled out Black Lightning’s beliefs on key issues. It’s a sign that as a writer, he has put a lot of thought into delineating his character. We ususally don’t see that about characters, especially the most iconic ones.

Most superheroes’ political (like their religious) views are not explicitly stated, and as a result, anyone can look at most superheroes and give examples of how Superman’s actions reveal that he is truly Liberal/Conservative/Moderate/Libertarian/What Have You. One of the fun parts of following a character is identification, and I can decide that my favorite superhero votes the same way I do and is annoyed by the same failings of the elected government.

Personally, I like knowing that Black Lightning’s views are similar to my own. However, one of my favorite comic books villains of the past few years is Goldilocks in Fables, who uses liberal thought and rhetoric to advance her own currupt agenda. My politics are far from Conservative, but it is refreshing to see a Leftist villain for a change. Anyhow, evil is evil, and, as Shakespeare wrote in The Merchant of Venice, “The Devil can cite scripture for his purpose.”

Another thought: In an issue of Thunderbolts (I don’t remember the issue number), if I remember correctly (and please correct me if I am wrong), Norman Osborn condemned Tony Stark for donating to Democratic candidates.

Another thought: One of the alleged reasons why the famously Ayn Rand-ish Steve Ditko stopped drawing and co-writing The Amazing Spider-Man (aside from his lack of fair credit) was his disagreement over the true identity of the Green Goblin. If the story is correct, Ditko thought that the Goblin should have been some schmo, not a successful businessman.

Still another thought: Alan Moore was repsectful of Ditko’s politics (even though Moore considered his viewsto be on the other end of the spectrum) in his reworking of Ditko’s politcally inclined Charlton characters into The Watchmen.

The big problem here is that I can’t accept his premises, the liberals want to change the status quo and conservatives want to keep it.

I think that the point that Greg was making is that the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ have been corrupted, so that there is a huge difference between what ‘conservative’ actually means and what ‘conservative’ is commonly used to refer to (of course, to say that any word can ‘actually mean’ something different to what it is ‘commonly used to refer to’ is to introduce a degree of lingustic representationalism that I don’t necessarily agree with, but that seems to be Greg’s point).

The problem seems to come from the fact that when partisan politics as we currently know it was invented, basically during the English Civil War, the Right-wing party (the Tories) wanted to keep the power in the hands of royalty and the Left-wing party (the Whigs) wanted to change the power into the hands of the parliment. From then Right-wing was seen as synonymous with conservative and Left-wing was seen as synonymous with liberal, despite Right and Left-wing philosophies changing greatly. (Yes, I know ‘Right-wing’ & ‘Left-wing’ were nonly invented as terms after the French Revolution, the idea already existed though).

My point is that I don’t think that Greg is arguing that Bush didn’t wan’t change, he was arguing that he wasn’t really ‘conservative’ if we use that word, as Greg would define it, properly. A more interesting question would be what the continuity is between Right-wing and Left-wing, despite the drastic change in philosophy, but I wont get into that here.

“I think it’s great that Tony Isabella spelled out Black Lightning’s beliefs on key issues. It’s a sign that as a writer, he has put a lot of thought into delineating his character. We ususally don’t see that about characters, especially the most iconic ones.”

Sounds like Black Lightning got Tony Isabella’s own beliefs on key issues.

The conservative structure of superhero comics (and many adventure fiction) has nothing to do with politics. It’s a matter of pure practicality.

Adventure fiction with a radical structure (i.e. heroes working to overthrow the status quo) is by definition finite. The radical heroes change the world. Then the story ends. You can extend things a bit if the radical heroes fail to change the world, and must keep trying. But eventually they will suceed, and then the story ends. It’s possible to make it never-ending, if the heroes never quite succeed and must keep trying always, but then it gets depressing. If the radical heroes change the status quo and now the story is about them defending the new status quo, they’ve become conservative, by your definition.

On the other hand, adventure fiction with a conservative structure can be infinite. The heroes must always fight to defend the status quo, and their story is a story of their many victories. Since the conservative structure of superhero comics has nothing to do with any conservative politics (much less real-world politics), I find no reason for conservative readers to find comfort in said structure.

It’s like telling baseball fans to find solace in the fact that the rules of baseball never change, so the baseball game must be “conservative.”

Sorry, my last sentence should be:

It’s like telling politically conservative baseball fans to find solace in the fact that the rules of baseball never change, so the baseball game must be “conservative.”

Zor-El of Argo

March 1, 2010 at 5:01 pm

“The US population is 30% nonwhite, so why isn’t that reflected in comics? Why don’t we see minority heroes like the Falcon dealing with minority issues 30% of the time? When a comic like CAPTAIN AMERICA dares to take an explicitly liberal stance, why does it get shouted down by the conservative blogosphere?

Answer: Because comics are all about preserving the (white) American status quo, as you said.”

Actually, I think it is because the publishers are interested in preserving their own bottom lines. We’ve seen minorities headline their own titles. i don’t believe for a moment that Black Lightning, John Stewart, or any other Black character were meant to be “token” characters to make the publisher seem “progressive.” I believe the publishers were trying to tap a new audience. The titles got cancelled, or Hal Jordan was put back in the saddle, when they couldn’t maintain profitable sales.

DC and Marvel will publish anything they think they can sell, no matter the political bent or the color of the main character. And that position is about as conservative as it gets!

Scott Rowland

March 1, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I enjoyed the article — much food for thought.

Part of the reason for superhero comics upholding the status quo is, of course, for reader identification. The more the fictional world looks less like the real world (at least in superficial aspects), the less the readers can experience the wish-fulfillment aspect of things. That’s the reason the things Reed Richards invents don’t have nearly the impact of the things Steve Jobs and Company invent.

Another aspect may have more to do with the tendency of most mainstream media to validate rather than question the status quo, because the consumers of the media are comfortable with that status quo. It’s only when the media is aimed at the dis- or less-enfranchised (e.g., rock and roll) that it really challenges the status quo.

Of course, Superman as originally conceived was very much a leftist. Read the original stories by Siegel and Shuster and see how he’s fighting corrupt politicians and businessmen. Joe Casey did a great story contrasting the original Superman with the current character in Adventures of Superman 612.

Ted articulates my point fairly well (thanks, Ted!) about the meaninglessness of terms. T.’s point about Bush wanting to change Social Security isn’t bad, but my point is that people in power want things to remain the same. They can tweak the system all they want, but if Bush had gotten into power and said, “I’m getting rid of Social Security,” he would have had a revolution – from both the Democrats and the Republicans. Tweaking things is one thing, destroying them is another. Every new president or new party in power in Congress tweaks things to make it seem like they’re changing stuff, but I believe it was Roger Daltry who screamed “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” It’s the ILLUSION of change – hey, just like superhero comics!

Oh boy. When did CBR become The Comics Journal. This is just the type of self important navel gazing that made the journal so deadly annoying in the ’80′s and 90′s and gave rise to Wizard.

I think the topic is interesting but this college thesis approach is embarrasing. Wizard gets a bad rap, deservadly, but they would cover this with a true sense of humor and brevity.

“Oh boy. When did CBR become The Comics Journal. This is just the type of self important navel gazing that made the journal so deadly annoying in the ’80′s and 90′s and gave rise to Wizard.”

I’ve been reading this blog for 2-3 years and I’m one or two more posts like this away from deleting it from my bookmarks and never looking back. Between this and Greg Hatcher’s recent posts (remember when he used to be interesting?) and those horrible “look at the horrible racists from the 1940s” posts, I’m about done.

And yes, this blog will happily go on without me. But I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way.

Sheesh. If we joke around here, people say we don’t take things seriously enough. If we do something like this, people say we’re too deadly serious. So sad. For those of you who think I’m being too goddamned serious about my funny books, I say … “Hey, look, everybody! It’s Ambush Bug!”

There. Frivolous enough for you?

@ interpid & J.H.

Funny, for me it’s exactly the other way around. I’m always teetering on the brink of stopping reading this blog altogether, because I’m just not that interested in the ephemera that generally gets covered, but every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in with a post like this one.

When it comes down to it, I think most readers here like the fact that the people on this blog keep the mix going. I might not be interested in what Curious Cat wants to know, and you may not care about politics, but the fact that they get both in here is actually pretty cool.

Scott Rowland

March 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Hey, I for one appreciate the mix that CSBG provides. It’s worth every penny I pay for it! :-)

Zor-El of Argo

March 1, 2010 at 5:23 pm

I rather like the fact that I can come here and discuss serious, real world issues with other comics fans. When I compare Dick Cheney to Lex Luthor and GW Bush to Otis in conversation with non-comic fans I tend to get strange looks, shaken heads, and eye rolls.

The conservative structure of superhero comics (and many adventure fiction) has nothing to do with politics. It’s a matter of pure practicality.

I think that you need differentiate between the cause of the conservative structure of superhero comics and the effect of such a structure. You may well be correct about the cause, I don’t think it really matters, but I think you are wrong if you don’t think that structure has no effect. The baseball example is unfair, because sports aren’t a method of communicating ethics. Stories, on the other hand, can communicate ethical views. In fact, some have argued that the entire point of stories is to communicate views, and I tend to agree. Although we tend to associate them with fairy tales, I would argue that every story (or at least every good story) has a moral, and in superhero comics that moral tends to be a conservative one.

Mike Loughlin

March 1, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Rene, you wrote what I was planning to write re: the nature of serial adventure fiction, only more articulately. If the Squadron Supreme changed the world for the better, the series would have been rather boring.

As liberal as I am on most issues, I sympathize with conservative readers who have to put up with socially liberal screeds. I don’t want Judd Winnick preaching at me through Green Lantern, even if I agree with him. Willingham’s pro-Israel speech jumped out at me in Fables, but it’s the only recent conservative rant I can recall in mainstream comics.I don’t mind liberal or conservative characters in comics, just when they hit you over the head with their beliefs. I think the Captain America curfluffle was ridiculous, but I can understand the basic complaint.

Greg, good post. Thanks for the food for thought.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 1, 2010 at 5:38 pm

You believe in advance, before a single person responds, that the only way a conservative can make a counterargument against a liberal is to “pick apart” and “intentionally misrepresent,” that there’s no way a conservative could or would disagree using valid points and logic? Because if so, you need to get off your high horse because that’s an intentional misrepresentation right there.

And you need to stop playing the wounded under-dog – the poster didn’t say anything about conservatives, or any political preference.

Go look at Greg Hatcher’s post on the issue – in the comments there are people who totally misunderstand what he’s saying – heck, I’m certain a few didn’t even read it before accusing him of following an agenda he clearly wasn’t.

Just restating the liberal media claim with a healthy dose of sarcasm doesn’t somehow magically debunk the claim.

Reality debunks the claim!

No one was making the claim until there was a conservative radio network and a conservative 24hour cable news service.
It’s a marketing ploy.
There’s a flat out conservative news channel, and a flat out leftie one, and the rest are pretty central – they don’t really go as hard as either side would like on any issue, and run both positive and negative stories about other sides.

No wonder liberals think Stephen Colbert is a “genius.”

That speech he gave at the white house making fun of Bush and the journalists coverage of him, in front of Bush and the journalists, was pretty genius, but other than that, I think they just think he’s funny.

Reality debunks the claim!

No it doesn’t.

No one was making the claim until there was a conservative radio network and a conservative 24hour cable news service.

If all the newspapers and media outlets leaned liberal, where could conservatives even have the outlet to make the claim before they had a national voice on radio and news? The claim was being made but simply couldn’t be heard on a national scale.

That speech he gave at the white house making fun of Bush and the journalists coverage of him, in front of Bush and the journalists, was pretty genius, but other than that, I think they just think he’s funny.

You have a very low standard for “genius.” It’s snarky mean girl sarcasm. By that standard 75% of the girls in my teenage niece’s class are geniuses. It’s not exactly Jonathan Swift level satire. If huffing and puffing sarcasm is the new threshold for genius, what do we now call people like Isaac Newton or Woody Allen or Marshall McLuhan? We now need a new word since “genius” has apparently become so devalued.

There’s a flat out conservative news channel, a whole bunch of flat out liberal ones which make up about 90% of the mainstream media and are as liberal as Fox is conservative like NY Times and CNN, than one batshit insane lefty one MSNBC that is way more over top.

The terms “conservative” and “liberal” have become meaningless due to their seemingly wanton application. They are, at best, now Brand Names.

The “conservative” stance, popular since the “Reagan Revolution,” that “government IS the problem” is in itself a falsehood that ignores the fact that the government IS the people. In a democracy, even a representative democracy, saying the government is the problem is akin to saying the people are the problem.

And that is the underlying message of the oligarchists who masquerade as “conservatives” and dominate the modern Republican Party, isn’t it? The people are the problem.

They want health care, and social security, and entitlement programs, how dare they ask for what they want? They’re not supposed to demand a return for their tax money! The Republican Oligarchists pay lip service to patriotism and libertarianism and religion to keep the blocs of their party in line. Funny thing is, each bloc thinks the other is being coddled by the party – The Religious Right thinks their morality drives the party, despite what the other bloc might think – The Tea Party/Libertarian bloc thinks their conservatism drives the party, despite the inherent contradictions between themselves and the religious right – and the Republican brand of patriotism acts as if the “we” in “we the people” refers to them and their friends, not the general public.

Government is the name we give to those things that we agree we have to work together to accomplish. The inherent cynicism in the idea that “Government IS the problem” undermines the very democratic principles and values this country was founded on. It’s Anti-American, and anti-democratic.

After all that, maybe you’ll understand why I read comics for escapist entertainment…

“Alan Moore was repsectful of Ditko’s politics (even though Moore considered his viewsto be on the other end of the spectrum) in his reworking of Ditko’s politcally inclined Charlton characters into The Watchmen.”

He may have been respectful of Ditko’s politics in the sense of not outright attacking them, but his depictions of Ditkovian conservatives were certainly satirical. The New Frontiersman staff, the ultimate ineptitude of Rorschach, the ending where we all just get along…. I doubt Ditko has read Watchmen, but if he did I bet he would take great issue with Moore’s interpretations of his characters. The fact is that Ditko’s Objectivist ideal of good does not triumph in Watchmen — it is in fact defeated utterly.

I’m a Socialist and tend to agree with Moore a lot more often than Ditko on politics, but I’d also say that Ditko’s moral certainties make for much better, clearer, more compelling superhero stories, while swimming through the murk of Moore’s leftist shades of gray can become an unappealing chore within the confines of that genre.

Thanks, nice article.

Bush the Lesser didn’t try to change Medicare, he tried to destroy it.

Stephen Colbert is a genius comedian. That’s all he pretends to be. And he has nothing to do with the subject at hand.

Basically, if the political slant agrees with your views you are cool with it. If the slant runs counter to your views, you hate it. Human nature. Superhero comics tell the stories of twentieth century corporate Gods. I think Batman is a gun control Republican–you know the compassionate conservative who wants to give something back, not the money, but something.

Ice said:
“Sounds like Black Lightning got Tony Isabella’s own beliefs on key issues.”

Not necessarily. Writers create different characters with different beliefs all the time.

No, T. The NY Times and CNN are not biased to the same degree that Fox News is. Fox News has been proven to instruct its reporters on what the position of any articles or segments for the week will be, before they even go to report on the issue.

Also, Fox News is the news channel with the majority of viewers. Therefore, the section of the media with the largest influence is conservative. That invalidates the complaint that people are being presented information with a liberal bias. Even if all the other the media companies were promoting liberally-biased information to people in every single instance, the majority of people would still be receiving information with a conservative bias.

Again, this attitude of being a persecuted minority is totally unjustified.

T. said:

“You have a very low standard for “genius.” It’s snarky mean girl sarcasm.”

You’re jusy mad that he spanked your hero on camera.

T. said:

“There’s a flat out conservative news channel, a whole bunch of flat out liberal ones which make up about 90% of the mainstream media”

Not so, and you know it. The only left channel is MSNBC. All the rest are center or right. Most of the major newspapers are rightist.

Again, reality is liberal.

@Ted: “I think that the point that Greg was making is that the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ have been corrupted, so that there is a huge difference between what ‘conservative’ actually means and what ‘conservative’ is commonly used to refer to (of course, to say that any word can ‘actually mean’ something different to what it is ‘commonly used to refer to’ is to introduce a degree of lingustic representationalism that I don’t necessarily agree with, but that seems to be Greg’s point).”

I think that gets to the problem with the article, despite being a supportive comment. Greg is trying to use conservative and liberal to mean something they haven’t meant in the US for at least 80 years, and probably longer. Since the New Deal introduced elements of the welfare state liberals have tried to preserve that aspect of the status quo (while trying to change others) while conservatives have been more likely to challenge that aspect (while trying to conserve others). Any discussion of liberal or conservative leanings in superhero comics that refuses to deal with what those words have meant for the entirety of post-WW2 history is not going to get anyone very far.

This is, like, the most awesome comic book blog post I’ve ever read. When I have more time I would like to comment on a few things, but it doesn’t matter. This post makes you think, and that alone is worth the compliment.

Greg – Did not read the whole column as I have a tendency to slim read stuff and I sure as heck did not read all the commentary. What I did pick up was that you tried to be as even handed as possible. Well done!

The one thing I will say is that any true conservatism has been out the window since probably the last two years (or more) of Regan’s presidency. George W. was a Republican in name only as he grew the government and spent like a drunken sailor. Obama has been a bitter disappointment and is an old school Chicago politician who wants to grow the government even more. The problem is the government is a thing unto itself and it is about generating laws that mean control and power. Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama have been all about selling the government to corporate interests. Neither of those entities have a soul. Ignorance of the law may not be an excuse, but it is a matter of fact that we are all now ignorant as the amount of laws everywhere is out of control and therefore so is our government.

Personally I voted for Ron Paul the last election and whoever the Libertarian candidate was in the election before that. I would love to see less government and more social liberties, but heck I want to see Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson get married, so I’ve always hoped for the impossible.

The whole thing about the liberal agenda being promoted in comics is that I miss them seeking out different voices because they are shutting out a viewpoint that could make some great comics. The Captain America blow-up was annoying because it felt like Captain America was equating protesters as being anti-American or something, when protests are an important element in society that has fostered many positive changes.

Finally I enjoyed you saying you are against both wars, because unfortunately the Demopublicans and Republicrats (except my boy Ron Paul) are for these wasted ventures.

Alan said;
“Not so, and you know it. The only left channel is MSNBC. All the rest are center or right. Most of the major newspapers are rightist.”

============================
You must watch different channels then I do because CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN all lean to the left, not whacky left like MSNBC, but to the left. The right dominate more of the”talk radio” circuit and both use the internet as outlets. All news seems to have a viewpoint today, of course maybe I just didn’t notice it before.

You’re jusy mad that he spanked your hero on camera.

You’re just throwing extras on it because he acted catty toward someone you hated. Like most liberals, your only criteria for calling the guy a “genius” is because he tells you what you already believe. I wouldn’t call it a “spanking,” it was huffy, puffy embarassing sarcasm except to the stoned lib slackers who use Daily Show and Colbert to get their actual news and applaud anything just for criticizing Bush.

Again, reality is liberal.

Well if you think reality is liberal, then that explains why you think CNN and those channels are centrist and neutral. If you think they are objective and reflecting reality, and you think reality is liberal, then what you’re saying is that they are liberal. You’re saying they reflect what reality is to you: liberalism. Thanks for admitting they’re liberal.

Well, now that I got that screed out of my system…

We all approach “reality” through subjective filters. We hear what we want to hear, see what we want to see. The inaccuracy of so-called “eyewitness” testimony has been repeatedly proven, for example.

I used to work for an arch-conservative who used to like to talk about the “pothole theory”. There might be one pothole in a road, but if you take that road every day and hit that pothole, you begin to think of it as that road full of potholes. Now, he was using it to illustrate why we should play more Hit Songs on our radio station, but it also illustrates an underlying quirk of perception, and why we humans are usually quick to “see” biases AGAINST our own point of view. Cognitive dissonance comes into play. As we read, watch or listen to a work, the things we agree with flow in smoothly, while those we disagree with jar us – we notice things we find unpleasant and don’t agree with MORE, especially in entertainment.

To conservatives, Fox seems correct, and everyone else seems liberal. As Fox has grown its audience and following, it has taken that base with them into what is more a Fox-based reality, creating a greater cognitive dissonance for that base when it encounters other media. To liberals, MSNBC seems correct, and everyone else seems to have a right wing bias. Each network provides its base with ideological reinforcement.

The further a group retreats from reality, the greater the cognitive dissonance their base experiences when encountering “reality”.

By the way, someone said Fox leads in the news ratings. It leads in basic cable news ratings, easily beating MSNBC and CNN, but the old 3 network news shows’ numbers dwarf those of Fox. Not said to disparage Fox, merely as a correction.

Damn, Burgas, I am in awe of your output, if nothing else. I can spend a half hour obsessing over a two paragraph comment – to put this much of yourself out there (and so often) is truly impressive.

This is a lot to digest, but I think I agree with most of it – especially given your acceptance of Ted’s re-wording of your central point. As a business school graduate, I can state that in my experience your observation of corporations is accurate – they are neither good nor evil. Those words only come into play as someone’s opinion of their actions in pursuit of profit or advantageous market position. Unfortunately, I would submit that our system of governance has become corporate in this sense. Both parties are conservative by Greg’s definition, as they both profit from the current system. Ideology is irrelevant. It’s for this reason that our current legislative gridlock will not change with anything short of revolutionary action by those not in power – regardless of what label they accept.

I think the comparison of this governmental inertia with superhero comics is an apt one. Much of the “success” of the federal government in the 21st century is due to the parties ability to convince America that they represent these ideas, thus convincing us that their “debate” is meaningful and that there is a reason for nothing to happen, e.g. that we don’t have social security or health insurance reform because of the opposition’s principled stance, not because there is no benefit for the financial services or medical industries and our corporate representatives in substantive change. Similarly, Marvel can say that humans becoming extinct or Peter Parker being married has to change because it’s the only way to give us the stories we demand/deserve, but it’s really about their need to not stray too far from the base where they can tell the same story in multiple formats for maximum profit.

The difference being that it’s fine for a for-profit corporation like Disney or Warner Bros to behave this way; it’s ethically less clear when a government of, by and for the people does.

One last thing, and this is where the thinking that lead to the guy with the marketing degree becoming a teacher comes in – until everybody moves beyond finger-pointing and kvetching over how we’re offended because such-and-such superhero/celebrity/media outlet espouses an opinion that contradicts ours, none of this really matters. Folks who like things the way they are like that people waste energy attacking or defending panels in a comic book.

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 1, 2010 at 6:51 pm

It’s kind of a coincidence that last weekend I watched Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.
Chock full of NAZIS to kill!!!! ;-)

Also, when I saw so many comments on this blog, I honestly thought that Kelly Thompson was ghost-writing under Mr. Burgas’ name. She has had quite a few lenghthy commentators on many a few columns of hers.

Mike Loughlin

March 1, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Here’s my perception of the modern liberal: wants government to take an active role in solving problems, wants social equality, wants to intervene in other countries’ affairs with minimal force, pro-environmental, anti- big business, believes in reformation systems perceived as biased, accepts multiple family structures and beliefs.

Here’s my perception of the modern conservative: wants government to be minimal, doesn’t want taxes beyond minimum necessary equality, pro-military, tough on crime, pro- big business, does not want any one group of people to receive benefits any other group does not receive, sees traditional family structure and religion as beneficial.

Am I way off, or just a little? When we talk about liberal and conservative, we’re talking about modern definitions and perceptions. The original definitions have become twisted and nebulous, but I find it easy to separate stances on most issues into liberal or conservative camps based on modern perceptions. I wish people would listen more, however. Both sides have merit, and those merits shift on nearly every issue. Politics in the US have become power struggles, and the needs of the people become lost in a swarm of rhetoric and double dealings. It’s depressing, especially with the economic troubles much of the world is facing.

@ Tony Isabella:
You will ignore this, but since you wrote, i’ll respond.

Based on your comments about Black Lightning, he is not convervative, he is a liberal.

Jefferson “Black Lightning” Pierce is a Northern Liberal Baptist. He’s conservative and deeply religious in his personal life, but doesn’t expect his religious beliefs to be the law of the land.

Among current/recent issues…

He is FOR equal rights for gays in marriage and the military and everything else.
Most conservatives are not for this issue.

He is FOR universal health care.
Conservatives are NOT for this issue.

He was reluctantly FOR the war in Afganistan and AGAINST the war in Iraq.
Again, these positions are not thought of as conservative.

He has voted Democratic in almost all Presidential elections and has never voted for a Bush.
Wow! Really not conservative.

He’s not happy that the Democrats turned out to be such pussies after they were given the White House and majorities in Congress. He thinks they have an obligation to fix the mess the Bush administration made of this country.
Again, not conservative.

Thanks for playing however.
DFTBA

While I agree superheroes are traditionally conservative, I disagree with the idea of Superheroes, who try to act left leaning and political, would create a leftist dictatorship. I know you’re not necessarily presenting this point, rather it is how it has been represented in the medium. There is nothing saying Superman could not run as an elected official who tries to increase the welfare state, who every once in a while flies off to fight crime. Governments move especially slow, they wouldn’t mind his regular absences. He’d also probably be given health insurance and a pension for his work in helping the country, which according to Civil War is the equivalence to fascism. I will admit if someone wrote this it would probably be a boring comic.

I also disagree with your labelling of ACORN which could not be farther than the truth. You are accepting the false painting of it by Conservative politicians. ACORN is an organisation that helps people living in impoverished areas file their taxes and register to vote. That is It. NOTHING MORE. To say they are extreme leftists would be like calling P Diddy’s Vote or Die campaign a plot for a Bolshevik revolution. What is true, is that since they register poor people, these individuals are often more left leaning, which is why the Republicans want to do everything in their power to destroy them. Everything shown by the media against them has been misconduct by specific employees. They are a much larger organisation.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 1, 2010 at 7:15 pm

No it doesn’t.

Well it does, because there isn’t one.

They just don’t support the right as much as the right would like, but they don’t support the left as much as the left would like.

You have a very low standard for “genius.” It’s snarky mean girl sarcasm. By that standard 75% of the girls in my teenage niece’s class are geniuses. It’s not exactly Jonathan Swift level satire. If huffing and puffing sarcasm is the new threshold for genius, what do we now call people like Isaac Newton or Woody Allen or Marshall McLuhan? We now need a new word since “genius” has apparently become so devalued.

No, that speech was genius level satire.

He got up in front of the President of The United States, and did what rival politicians were scared to do at the time – critiqued him and his policies.
And he did it all with a folksy smile on his face.

You’re just throwing extras on it because he acted catty toward someone you hated. Like most liberals, your only criteria for calling the guy a “genius” is because he tells you what you already believe. I wouldn’t call it a “spanking,” it was huffy, puffy embarassing sarcasm

Catty?
You haven’t watched that speech have you?

except to the stoned lib slackers who use Daily Show and Colbert to get their actual news and applaud anything just for criticizing Bush.

As opposed to the frightened, poorly educated morons who get their information from Glenn Beck, and then go join the tea party protest?

Name calling is fun!

That’s the difference between you and me T – I’ll call people names and make generalizations all day long.
But I haven’t been complaining about how unfair it is when it’s done to me.

(Why is someone who watched Daily Show a slacker, but someone who watches Fox isn’t?)

You must watch different channels then I do because CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN all lean to the left, not whacky left like MSNBC, but to the left

Do they?
Or do they just not leave the center when the Republicans would like them to?

Well if you think reality is liberal, then that explains why you think CNN and those channels are centrist and neutral. If you think they are objective and reflecting reality, and you think reality is liberal, then what you’re saying is that they are liberal. You’re saying they reflect what reality is to you: liberalism. Thanks for admitting they’re liberal.

He was using the word liberal in it’s non-political sense to make a joke.

Maybe some people here need to turn off the TV, and read a book?

Jestercore: I really couldn’t think of a left-wing analog of the Tea Party. Liberals say the Tea Party is way far right, while conservatives say ACORN is way far left. Feel free to substitute your own far-left group. I thought of PETA, but they’re not really a political group. I’m sure there’s a group that falls under the vague Democrat idealogies but is far left even for them. I just didn’t feel like looking for one. Your point is well taken, though.

Boy do I not agree with this.

First, you are conflating several very different things together. What you are describing as “conservative” is really a temperament more than a political philosophy. Honestly, lots of people have a conservative temperament and liberal political views (including our current President). The reverse is also true. George W. Bush had conservative philosophies and a radical temperament. The two things have nothing to do with one another.

Second, the broad conservative and liberal movements include several clusters that have deeply contrasting views. I covered those types on my old blog if you are curious: http://fiendishobservationalcomedian.blogspot.com/2005/08/really-interesting-demographic.html

Zor-El of Argo

March 1, 2010 at 7:39 pm

I recall during the 2000 election campain I supported John McCain over Bush in the primaries. At that time my girlfriends mother was the single most liberal person with whom I was aquainted. My father was, and still is, the single most conservative person to whom I am aquainted. She hated McCain because he was to hard-lined conservative. He hated McCain because he was “really a liberal.”

My local newspaper is routinely accused of either liberal slant or conservative slant by different readers, often based on the same article or column.

It’s simple, if you’re a right-winger you think Fox News is fair and balanced and everyone else has a liberal slant. If you’re a leftie you think the reverse. If you’re far enough to the left to think of CNBC as being balanced, then you probably think everyone leans to the right and Fox is completely tipped. Everyone sees politics through their own filter. Doesn’t matter is they’re reading the news, a comic book, or the comment thread following a comic-based column that few posters seemed to have read completely in the first place.

He was using the word liberal in it’s non-political sense to make a joke.

I know what he meant when he said “reality has a liberal bias.” My response still stands.

No, that speech was genius level satire.

He got up in front of the President of The United States, and did what rival politicians were scared to do at the time – critiqued him and his policies.
And he did it all with a folksy smile on his face.

Wait, he got up in front of him and…*GASP!*…criticized him while…*wait, let me see if I can wrap my brain around this*…PRETENDED TO BE SMILING AND COMPLIMENTING HIM?!?!?!?!! WOAH, I THOUGHT THAT WAS TEXTBOOK MEAN GIRL SARCASM! You really proved me wrong there, how silly of me to say he did nothing exceptional except be sarcastic. (Now feel free to compliment me on the “genius” I just displayed in that paragraph ;))

And what do you mean “scared?” People criticized and harangued GW Bush the whole time he was in office, except for a short time after 9/11 when it was considered in poor taste. What is this heroic narrative you guys have to create around the most mundance activities?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 1, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Wait, he got up in front of him and…*GASP!*…criticized him while…*wait, let me see if I can wrap my brain around this*…PRETENDED TO BE SMILING AND COMPLIMENTING HIM?!?!?!?!! WOAH, I THOUGHT THAT WAS TEXTBOOK MEAN GIRL SARCASM! You really proved me wrong there, how silly of me to say he did nothing exceptional except be sarcastic. (Now feel free to compliment me on the “genius” I just displayed in that paragraph ;) )

Again, you blatantly haven’t seen the speech.
He wasn’t sarcastic at all.
He sent up the Presidents own speeches and rhetoric he used – he wasn’t sarcastic.
See, regardless of politics, his was a very funny – and very ballsy – speech to do.
Your attempt to do sarcasm is just sad – even in terms of sarcasm.
As for genius, the video he showed, in which he was a press secretary running from questions about the WMD’s… it went for so long, it stopped being funny.
Which was genius, as it was meant to stop being funny, much like the extent the white house’s refusal to answer questions.

Sorry you didn’t like what he was saying, or who he was sending up, but it was damn funny, and genius.
If you want to attack it, or say it wasn’t funny, harping on about sarcasm isn’t the way to go, as he wasn’t using sarcasm.

This goes against your next point as well, but it is worth noting that there was very little reporting on the speech at the time he gave it, and the only write ups at the time mentioning it, weren’t friendly to Colbert.
It was over a year or so later that people started writing positively about the speech, as Bush’s polls had plummeted.
He slagged off the President and the White House Press Corp, in front of the President and the White House Press Corp, over a year before it was common to do so.
Genius.

And what do you mean “scared?” People criticized and harangued GW Bush the whole time he was in office, except for a short time after 9/11 when it was considered in poor taste. What is this heroic narrative you guys have to create around the most mundance activities?

No they didn’t.
From 9/11 until ’06 or ’07 there was very little criticism of Bush coming from any major news outlet in the US.
I can see you’re attempting to send up the left wing critiquing the right wing news services for following a set narrative, but you’re ignoring the fact that for a President blowing the budget way out, for a second war, started on false pretenses, he got off very lightly.
Also worth remembering, his administration punished journalists who didn’t write nice things by denying access.

Imagine if Joe Biden shot someone in the face, or if Michelle Obama had once killed a guy.

Wow, did this get pointless in a hurry. At least nobody took my abortion discussion and ran with it….that could have gotten really ugly.

Everyone will see what they expect to see in this mess of a thread. I see whiny, snarky, pretentious liberals secure in the self-evident correctness of their viewpoint and the evilness of anyone who disagrees with them, and I see brave conservatives standing up to a significant majority that opposes them and thoughtfully stating their case. Your mileage may vary.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 1, 2010 at 8:23 pm

I know what he meant when he said “reality has a liberal bias.” My response still stands.

No it doesn’t.

It just becomes gobbledygook.

Something being Liberal, in the non-political sense, does not make it liberal, in the political sense.
The same goes vice versa.

So no, the response doesn’t stand.

Imus was worse to Clinton then Colbert was to Bush.
http://www.imonthe.net/imus/ispeech.htm

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

March 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I’d be interested in an explanation of why various media outlets are systematically liberally biased from one of the conservative commentators here. I suppose CNN’s alleged liberal bias might once have been the result of owner Ted Turner’s liberalism, but he’s had essentially no say in the running of CNN for some years now. Why do Time-Warner, General Electric, ? Are the corporations run by liberals as well? Do the owners simply not care about the slant of the networks they own? If the news is liberally biased, why is this so, and why is it so for multiple media outlets over long stretches of time?

Bias is, frankly, hard to measure. I’m perfectly willing to accept that MSNBC’s opinion shows are generally very liberal; I’d need to see large-scale evidence, by which I mean statistically sampled and controlled data, that could demonstrate that its non-opinion shows offering news coverage, and CNN’s, and the major networks’, are all liberally biased. Are multiple news events consitently and repeatedly reported in ways that favor liberals over conservatives?

Remarking that CNN undercounted Tea Party protest attendance numbers says that they got that story wrong; proving that they routinely undercount attendance at conservative gatherings over a number of years would prove systematic bias. (And even then, I think for that bias to be “liberal” bias, you’d have to show multiple pieces of evidence that attendance at liberally-themed rallies and protests is consistently overcounted or at least properly counted; if both are being undercounted, all that’s proven is that these news outlets undercount attendance at political rallies. Simply saying that “we all know there’s bias” means nothing; bias would have to be defined, and a metric or other objective test presented before the accusation of liberal bias can be evaluated for its truth or falsity.

That’s the thing about accusations of systematic bias: they are big, damning accusations, and I think they should be held to very high standards of evidence. It may be true that the media are liberally biased, but I’ve never seen a convincing account of how it is biased or a consistent metric by which I might judge this for myself in a relatively objective fashion. So I tend to go on ignoring most accusations of bias.

I do think that FOX’s opinion shows are generally slanted heavily towards conservative causes and rhetoric, and that MSNBC’s slant heavily towards liberal causes and rhetoric. I tend to get angry at the commentators I disagree with ideologically, and ignore the commentators I do agree with. (Personally, I find them all pretty obnoxious; having the smug asshole who talks over everyone on your side isn’t any better to me than having him or her on the other side. In either case, there’s a smug asshole blathering endlessly.) And none of it seems to matter that much: the highest-rated show on cable news is Bill O’Reilly’s opinion program, which gets around 3 to 3.5 million viewers; about 1% of the country tunes into the top-rated show on a news network. Both liberal and conservative opinionators and newspeople are dividing up a fairly small pie to start with.

If pervasive liberal media bias exists, it is remarkably ineffective at swaying conservatives, or, really, doing anything other than preaching to the choir. Conservatives still win elected office; conservatives still hold conservative ideas. The practical harm done to conservatives by whatever liberal media bias might exist doesn’t seem readily apparent to me; if it’s an annoyance, it’s certainly not much of a threat as far as I can tell.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

March 1, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Why do Time-Warner, General Electric, ?

That should read: “Why do Time-Warner, General Electric, Disney etc. not change the personnel of these news channels if they are liberally biased in an ovious, credibility-impairing fashion?”

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 1, 2010 at 8:31 pm

At least nobody took my abortion discussion and ran with it….that could have gotten really ugly.

We saw it was going to be ugly and deformed if it happened, and so being god-hating lefties, we deicded to abort it rather than let it come to term.

I see whiny, snarky, pretentious liberals secure in the self-evident correctness of their viewpoint and the evilness of anyone who disagrees with them, and I see brave conservatives standing up to a significant majority that opposes them and thoughtfully stating their case.

I get what you’re doing there… but I’d just like to point out – some thought in your case would be good.

Well, I guess I will pick apart a few points, but really there are some things that I feel have to be said.

First, @sgtrockfan’s list of JLA-ers – I actually think that both Barry and Wally are Conservatives… first off, both have been indicated as supporting the Death Penalty (on Geoff’s run, in the story where Wally tries to help the Top get his sanity back, I think is where it’s mentioned). I also think that, in Teen Titans, Mia mentions something about how Bart is more liberal than his predecessors in her thought box, referring to something GA told her. Barry was also a police scientist. But that’s just how I read him (though now that I mention it, I’m becoming more convinced that Geoff may be one of the elusive “Conservative Comic Writers” mentioned in the article… Flash and GL, after all…)

This raises one point with the article, not so much a disagreement as an expansion. I actually think that if you look at some of the authors out there, there are more conservatives than you think. “Civil War” is mentioned as a case of being misinterpreted by people on both sides of the aisle… if you look at Millar’s other works, he stops looking like the other authors at Marvel. Ultimate Cap is one good example where I think his true leanings start to shine through. Johnathan Hickman seems to be a bit more to the center, too. Re-read the first issue of Secret Warriors, where Fury meets the President. Notice that the president is in silhouette, and if you look closely, you can see how it almost looks like a pastiche of Obama and McCain together – it could’ve been either. Also, Fury’s line about having been in the room with better men – Hickman had no guarantee on who’d be the recipient of that line, so it indicates a possible viewpoint that neither of the candidates (or indeed, any politician) is worthy of the same deference as those before them.

Now to the points I disagree on. First off, as a “conservative” to use modern parlance, I do feel that the “liberal” view gets shoved in my face a lot in my entertainment. It actually wouldn’t bother me as much, though, if I wasn’t a student of political science. I have to deal with it every day in my classes and in my work (as a host of my school’s radio program and an opinion columnist). It’s why I all but stopped watching the news – not that I didn’t and don’t agree with the FNC commentators, but I want my entertainment to be separate from my work. Thus, when I flip open the new issue of Green Lantern, I don’t want Geoff preaching to me about his point of view explicitly. I want a good story, first and foremost, and too much politics to either side can ruin it.

Now, you mention that comics are rarely subtle. I disagree firmly. I think that, even in superhero works, you can have subtlety, particularly with subtext, without losing impact. Consider “The Dark Knight” – hardly subtle in its action. And yet, in an almost blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene, there is a debate about the merits of Batman’s “Cell Phone Sonar” device, which is almost a parallel of the NSA/Wiretap debate. And yet, if someone hadn’t been paying close attention to political news, they may not have realized that was what was going on (if indeed they hadn’t gone to the bathroom at a rare lull in the action). It was there, but it was subtle. Comics can do it just as well, in my opinion (Hickman’s seeming jab at McBama is Exhibit B).

I also take exception to the comment you made near the end about how, with the Republicans being the more focused and unified force right now, the Right will bear the brunt of the jokes. No, they’ve always borne the brunt of the jokes (except maybe when Clinton was in office, but that was more him than the Dems). It becomes increasingly difficult to be a conservative comedian in today’s political climate – of the President and the first 4 people who would succeed him in case of national emergency, one is black (or at least half-black) and two are female (Pelosi and Clinton). And the President pro tempore almost doesn’t count because many people don’t even know what it is, who it is, how he became it and what he does (the answer is Robert Byrd, who would preside in the absence of Biden and is theoretically the highest ranked Senator. Generally the guy who’s been in longest). In other words, any joke (or, in the really early days of the Obama administration, any critical comment) would be lampooned as discriminatory, either racist or sexist, by the Left. Rather than seeing the entertainment establishment go after the current admin like it would any other officeholder, regardless of party, you haven’t seen much of a transition in focus. The Republicans, despite holding little power, have been the butt of jokes since effectively 2001.
You also mentioned how the Right misinterpreted Civil War; that’s in part because the Left interpreted it as well. I can think of personal examples where people I knew took the commonly held position, not even considering that their interpretation (and thus conclusions) were wrong. And while one can try to reframe the topic, once it’s been directed down a path you have to fight that battle.

I still think that this was a very thought-provoking piece, but it’s not just a question of “Is the industry more right or more left;” it should be “why is any entertainment industry forcing a visible viewpoint on reality when all I want is to be distracted from reality?”

And yes, Frank Miller is in the “Bat-shit crazy” category. There is no argument there.

It’s simple, if you’re a right-winger you think Fox News is fair and balanced and everyone else has a liberal slant. If you’re a leftie you think the reverse. If you’re far enough to the left to think of CNBC as being balanced, then you probably think everyone leans to the right and Fox is completely tipped. Everyone sees politics through their own filter.

True, very true. Like I said, I tend to be middle of the road. Which means that on certain occasions I’ve had conservatives refer to me as a “bleeding heart” and on other occasions I’ve had liberals accuse me of being a “fascist.” Seriously.

There is another political axis at work in comics, which skews “left”. It’s the “all I ever needed to learn I learnt at university” attitude. A lot of comicbook writers really are sophomoric, with no prior work experience of any meaningful kind, no life experiences to speak of since they grew up in times of peace and plenty, and no meaningful deep education.

Their deep-seated sense of entitlement and shallow intellectualism are in direct proportion to their dwelling inside an echo chamber and how frequently they leave it.

BMOC or BWOC in the comicbook college doesn’t translate to intellectual achievement of any professional standard, nor does it qualify them to speak on anyone else’s behalf. Civil War, even the current addiction to gore, and many similar tropes of modern comics from Disney and Warner are symptomatic of the thirty year old who should have left university at twenty-two, but had nowhere to go.

Recruiting writers from the champagne socialist old media doesn’t help either- television ratings are not much of a guide to actual literary ability, and JMS warping Spider-Man was not a triumph, it alienated tens of thousands of loyal readers. Likewise even as far back as the considered-classic PAD run on Hulk- considered classic inside the shrinking bubble of monthly comics buyers, alienating to fans who are now forever comfortably outside.

As for the basic logical fallacies with which this article is littered- the moment someone tries to handwave away the intellectual dishonesty of first redefining clearly understood modern idiomatic usages, one knows how it will end. In a fake “ah ha!” moment stage managing a tired and unconvincing reversal.

The perverted, childish or just basically jaw droppingly ignorant attitudes and opinions of the incestuous clan who write for Disney and Warner are not fit to be analysed any deeper than this- they get their politics from TV, they are desperate to write for movies, and comics is filling in time between hubristic exercises. If they were all still at college, it would be OK. But Disney and Warner both need to stage interventions to make the wayward navel gazers writing their (un)funnybooks finally leave the nursery.

Some examples of the unintentionally hilarious gaffes of our current tarnish age, akin to the silliness of the silver age:

A person writing Wonder Woman who can cheerfully shoehorn a bisexual character (Achilles in myth) into being homosexual. Pathetic.

Using the “you just don’t get it” argument on everything Morrison writes. Plenty of people are easily educated enough, let alone smart enough, to get it. We just we think it’s crap. It doesn’t make sense, it has raised being derivative to some sort of exponentially heightened energy level that makes Alan Moore look like Da Vinci, and it is really only an exercise in auto-cannibalism. The end result is inevitable: total character reboot, AGAIN, the moment Morrison is out the door. Which he undoubtedly will be because he has no real work ethic. He is the comicbook equivalent of the bore and boor poet propping up a Uni bar. Grow up, Morrison. Grow up. Take a look outside. Black magic doesn’t work, the sun will shine tommorow somewhere, and Batman is every bit as homoerotic, unintentionally creepy and mentally ill a plagiaristic concept as it looks.

Superman. The entire concept was so horribly of its time, and has rightly been such a joke for sixty years, that persisting in moving it around like the particoloured zombie that it is has more of an air of nightmare than any of the sour lemon sucking pretention of a hundred horribly written and drawn Vertigo titles. Ugh.

Spider-Man. Radioactive cum. Goodbye thousands of readers. Aunt May somehow is never going to die. Less change than most newspaper strips, that means. Goodbye thousands more readers. Deal with the devil, but hey we’re all moral relativists, right? So we’re cool. Goodbye well over sixty thousand readers. Masterful stuff. Masterful.

Bendis- he has never forgiven Hollywood for not recognising what he sees as his genius, and never liked superheroes in the first place. Thus he is apparently a logical choice to preside over Disney’s comicbooks at a time when their Hollywood-committed superheroes are at the height of their marketability. Also, he just isn’t that talented. His books sells 100,000 odd tops. Big freaking deal. The same addictive compulsive personalities will buy these crappy comics until they are literally old and grey, or older and greyer, and no one new is going to replace them because comics from Disney are no longer fun AT ALL. And they offend the senses and logic of “interlopers” who consider buying them.

Civil War. Straw man arguments, no consistency of character, plot or indeed basic logic. Comics can’t be real or realistic. They need to be PLAUSIBLE (a hobbyhorse of mine) not realistic. Civil War was horribly implausible.

Doctor Strange. When Marvel as it then was executed its continuity Strange had to be depowered, redefined and basically removed from play. Rewritten as an idiot a conspirator and basically a buffoon, his fate and the ridiculous sophomoric nonsense of the ooh Illuminati (fully buzzword compliant namechecks! yay) is cringe inducing to fans of the character, absurd to non-Disney / Warner readers who read any other comicbook (others DO actually exist, believe it or not! And no, I don’t mean wannabe corporate whores like Dark Horse et al), and not even remotely interesting to the Naruto generation. Take a pill, Doc.

Refusal to let characters age and die. There was time when things was grate that it didn’t seem important to factor this in. Now it’s crucial since both DC as it was and Marvel as it was are dead and gone. This dark watershed moment in American comics is a perfect time to pick replacements, have the original heroes closer to their real ages where appropriate and retire a whole generation of them. The JSA and Invaders are frozen by their defining events into the WW2 era. Why in God’s name the editors don’t do the same with the current crop of crummy characters and start over properly is baffling. It’s just silly. It’s also a scary symptom of the immaturity of the people writing and editing inside the shrinking bubble.

Anyway, enough or too much.

the terms “left” “right” “liberal” and “conservative” are all relative terms that are pretty much meaningless. When I was a kid I was taught conservative meant keeping the government out of people’s lives not regulating morality. I thought liberals were anti-war not increasing the number of soldiers already in a war.

People who think CNN is left leaning obviously haven’t listened to Democracy Now. Democracy Now makes CNN look like FOX News. If you are all the way to the right then everything looks leftist.

People who think CNN is left leaning obviously haven’t listened to Democracy Now. Democracy Now makes CNN look like FOX News. If you are all the way to the right then everything looks leftist.

CNN is the left version of Fox News. Democracy Now is the left version of Human Events.

No it doesn’t.

It just becomes gobbledygook.

Something being Liberal, in the non-political sense, does not make it liberal, in the political sense.
The same goes vice versa.

So no, the response doesn’t stand.

Yes it does. Because I’m ignoring the whole “non-political sense” thing. I have no idea what you’re talking about with that.

Sorry you didn’t like what he was saying, or who he was sending up, but it was damn funny, and genius.
If you want to attack it, or say it wasn’t funny, harping on about sarcasm isn’t the way to go, as he wasn’t using sarcasm.

And I’m sorry you so liked what he said you’ve convinced yourself it was genius rather than mildly clever snarky sarcasm. Saying the opposite of what you mean in a patronizing way to insult someone is sarcasm. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

I do agree my use of sarcasm was sad and pathetic. Just like Stephen Colbert’s. See, when you disagree with the viewpoints the lameness of sarcasm suddenly becomes apparent to you! :D

Re “We’ve seen minorities headline their own titles”: What, for 10 or 20 issues? Black Panther barely made it to 50 issues. Other than that, name all the minority characters who have had extensive runs as title characters. (Don’t include Spawn, who doesn’t have a skin color because he’s a decaying corpse.)

After you list all these runs, we’ll see if they comprise 30% of the total output of modern-day superhero comics. If not, I’d say the industry is basically racist (as well as sexist and classist). It’s biased toward preserving the white, Christian, middle-class status quo.

Incidentally, I agree with a lot of Jonathan Nolan’s criticisms. How about if Marvel and DC adopt a planned strategy of rebooting their universes every 20 years? Characters can marry, age, even die. No one will be too upset because their favorites will return in a few years.

“CNN is the left version of Fox News”
It depends on where you set the middle. I see CNN trying so very very hard to be apolitical they become irrelevant. Based on scanning the headlines, Human Events doesn’t seem that much different than Fox new or talk radio to me. I’m not a reader of Human events though so I don’t know. Democracy Now is undeniably much further left than CNN or even MSNBC.

And also, can we dispel the myth that an entertainer or journalist bashing a Republican is “gutsy.” It’s not. It’s SMART BUSINESS. It was probably the single biggest thing he did to boost his popularity and ratings. Sticking up for a Republican is a gutsy thing for entertainers or mainstream journalists to do, not bashing them.

P.S. One could say the left-wing analogue of the Tea Party movement is the Socialist Party movement. I.e., no government vs. total government. Socialism was big in the early years of the 20th century, but it’s moribund now.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 1, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Yes it does. Because I’m ignoring the whole “non-political sense” thing. I have no idea what you’re talking about with that.

The words actual definition, which is what I assumed Alan was going for with his joke.

Much like ‘conservative’, it has a meaning separate from politics.

And I’m sorry you so liked what he said you’ve convinced yourself it was genius rather than mildly clever snarky sarcasm.

Again T, you can dislike it all you want, but he wasn’t using sarcasm as his humour.
It was actually closer to absurdism, and what made it genius was that he was using the Presidents own words to fuel.
In front of the President.
Who had to sit there through it.
Regardless of politics, most speakers, let alone comedians, lose their conviction when in front of the person they dislike, especially the president.
He got up and ridiculed the man, and his actions, in front of him.
And then left the room quickly.
It’s a shame you can’t get past his politics and applaud the man for standing up to the powers that be.

Incidentally, I agree with a lot of Jonathan Nolan’s criticisms. How about if Marvel and DC adopt a planned strategy of rebooting their universes every 20 years? Characters can marry, age, even die. No one will be too upset because their favorites will return in a few years.

Tell that to LOSH fans!

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy, you are my hero.

Just thinking through writing for those who like reality in their funny books…

I think a fabulous experiment would be for Marvel to write a Captain America/Avengers storyline where they take on Hydra, Aim, or maybe even they bring back the Flag Smasher [yeah, old school]…any of the Marvel universe’s terrorists organizations (pick one; it doesn’t matter). And they win. Smoke out the organization, stop the plot, whatever. They do it in grand style. They capture the ring leader and all the head cronies, demolish the organization, and then there’s only a few random guys floating around that are still wanted but not the really an immediate threat. It could be a big crossover event, with Cap leading it and arguing extensively that the ring leaders have to be captured alive so that they can be brought to justice “and that’s what a hero does”.

Then, we get the aftermath where they have to put the terrorists on trial. Of course, the heroes would have to figure out where to try the terrorists and if it was fair to give the terrorists rights. Then we would have to wade through several issues about if execution isn’t a better option and what not (with some heroes being opposed), and then the appeals on flimsy evidence and violation of rights, such as illegal search and seizure to know that a plot existed and whether a Norse god can really exist at all to be on the witness stand and offer testimony, and even if convicted, where do you send them because no one really wants to have terrorists in their county jails…and so on…

And then we can debate further about which heroes are dirty, conservative bastards and which ones are soft, socialist liberals. In this scenario, despite the fact that he is a devout soldier, wears red, white, and blue and has “America” in his name, I could see Cap being labeled a liberal simply for wanting to put the terrorists on trial (which is how I would expect someone writing Cap would write him based on his passed characterizations). I love our world…

Yeah, if Marvel wanted to get lots of hype and controversy and people looking at their books, this is exactly what I think would do it.

Just sayin’.

Burgas for president!

Fantastic post, Greg. And now we sit back and enjoy the shitstorm.

To my non-leftist friends, I give you….. PIGMAN

I think the whole “Your favorite (Or ‘My least favorite’) news network is basically Pravda with a flat accent!” thing is really missing the gist of the article and derailing what could be an interesting discussion. That goes double for T.’s weird Colbert fixation.

Regardless, swell piece, Burgas.

Even if you are a frothing moderate.

To me it always seems that the news media have a statist bias, and this applies to Conservative, Liberal, or centrist news organisations. (And really, all the major publications and TV networks are somewhat centrist.) No matter what the issue is, they always seem to feel that Government involvement is natural, and usually necessary. The Liberal-Conservative axis only plays into how they feel the Government should involve itself.

But maybe I only see it this way because I’m a Libertarian-type.

I agree with the author’s use of the terms ‘conservative’ and ‘radical’ as very correct. He specifically and deliberately scuffs the divisors between self-proclaimed political ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’ in order to make a point about the dictionary definition of the word ‘conservative.’ The Traditonalist view of politics/morality/religion as communicated by Edmund Burke, which is embraced by most modern political ‘conservatives’, is all about the maintenance of the traditional status quo on the premise that if something else were better it would BE the traditional status quo.

Now, T is right to say that the current status quo is more politically ‘liberal’ in many ways than it is politically ‘conservative.’ However, the desire to overturn a new status quo in favor of a previous model is not ‘conservative’ but ‘reactionary.’ Likewise, the desire to maintain an existing status quo is not ‘liberal’ but ‘conservative’, even if that status quo was instituted by ‘liberals.’ By that model, one can argue that the American political dispute is between ‘conservatives’ who wish to maintain the current status quo, ‘reactionaries’ who wish to repeal it, and ‘radicals’ who wish to institute sweeping changes beyond what has already been done.

I’d say those labels are more accurate than the ones currently in use and that there are a lot more conservatives than there are reactionaries and radicals. The lines between all of those groups are much fuzzier than one might think as well. T makes an excellent example by noting that it can be disputed whether the Nazis were ‘left’ or ‘right’ wing. The answer is that they were both and they were neither. The same can be said of the Bolsheviks. The Nazis were fundamentally radical in their methods, reactionary in their goals, and conservative in their rhetoric. The Bolsheviks were fundamentally radical in their rhetoric, reactionary in their methods, and conservative in their goals… the communist ideal they were intending to institute as national policy had always been the basic economic system of Russian peasants. It was the tsars, from Ivan the Terrible on down the line, who had attempted to institute radical reforms in Russian life and culture and Bolshevism was the natural destruction of that policy. So the ‘right wing’ Nazis were basically left wing in many ways and the ‘left wing’ Bolsheviks were right wing blowback against generations of radicalism from the top.

The problem is that the accuracy or dictionary correctness of political labels is meaningless. People will call themselves ‘liberal’, ‘conservative’, or ‘moderate’ based on what those words mean to them. They will then judge the infoglut the world throws at them based on those same very personal definitions. I tend to feel that I am bombarded by ‘conservative’ rhetoric and propaganda as sincerely as any conservative feels they are bombarded from the left because my own views are VERY radical and I have a very different standard.

The Statist versus Individualist model is one reasonable attempt to simplify all this, but imperfect: both sides are statist in pursuit of their own goals. The Traditionalist versus Progressive model has some value… except ‘progress’ is itself a loaded and subjective term. Moreover, each of these models inherently re-enforces bias in one direction or the other. I tend to see it as a conflict between Corporatism (forced collectivism in which a minority subverts capitalism and democracy to create and maintain a privileged managerial class) and Socialism (voluntary cooperation between individual members of society to maintain individual freedoms and minister to the public good)… but that definition only serves to demonstrate my own biases.

I don’t think it is possible, in this age (if it ever was), to categorize political competition and conflict with any degree of objectivity.

‘It depends on where you set the middle. I see CNN trying so very very hard to be apolitical they become irrelevant. Based on scanning the headlines, Human Events doesn’t seem that much different than Fox new or talk radio to me. I’m not a reader of Human events though so I don’t know. Democracy Now is undeniably much further left than CNN or even MSNBC.’

What is interesting is that many out-of-the-beltway liberals will tend to define CNN as basically conservative. This has a certain degree of validity, in that there is a large contingent of moderate Republicans working for CNN. However, hardcore conservatives will always see such views as liberal and moderates will always have to prove they are not liberal to maintain acceptance. Hence, CNN often communicates a conservative line out of perceived necessity.

NBC News has been accused of taking a very specific position by blogs like The Daily Howler: economically liberal, socially conservative, aggressively patriotic, aggressively ‘politically correct’, and subtly racist and chauvinist. This has sometimes been specifically associated with specific ethno-religious biases to such a degree that it approaches hate-speech.

Hard core conservatives have frequently accused Fox News of hewing to an authoritarian, neoconservative line rather than ‘true’ conservatism.

The basic fact is that there is little difference between the qualitative news content of the three networks. The difference is in presentation. CNN hews to the Old Beltway values in its presentation, which are seen as conservative by younger liberals and liberal by older conservatives. MSNBC has recently geared its opinion content around a younger, liberal audience… but its news coverage is likewise presented according to the values of the Old Beltway. Fox News is presented in a style that can best be called ‘Beltway Republican.’ It pays lip service to social conservatism, gives significant airtime to conservative talking-heads, and interweaves its opinion and news programming in a message oriented style… but the news content itself if fundamentally the same.

None of the three present a truly alternative journalistic POV. If you really want ‘liberal news’ you have to read ‘Ramparts.’ ‘Conservative news’ is even harder to find because the popularity of ‘shock jock’ conservative commentators has dried up interest in genuine alternative journalism from the right… if such interest was ever there. As aggregators like Huffington Post increasingly dominate liberal journalism and give voice to the liberal equivalent of the shock jocks, I predict interest in ‘liberal news’ will dry up in much the same way.

Instead of competing journalistic perspectives, which would be a healthy thing, we have a competition to put the right spin on the presentation of the same information plus a competition to make up the better misinformation.

“And also, can we dispel the myth that an entertainer or journalist bashing a Republican is “gutsy.” It’s not. It’s SMART BUSINESS.”

So, wait, now you’re agreeing with the idea that liberalism is more popular than conservatism in America and, thus, the corporations that run the news networks (and Comedy Central) hew liberal in their opinions in order to better reflect America?

That’s an interesting point for a conservative to be making…

thomas narcejac

March 2, 2010 at 2:03 am

Matt wrote:

“Alan Moore…may have been respectful of Ditko’s politics in the sense of not outright attacking them, but his depictions of Ditkovian conservatives were certainly satirical. The New Frontiersman staff, the ultimate ineptitude of Rorschach, the ending where we all just get along…. I doubt Ditko has read Watchmen, but if he did I bet he would take great issue with Moore’s interpretations of his characters. The fact is that Ditko’s Objectivist ideal of good does not triumph in Watchmen — it is in fact defeated utterly.”

I’m not sure that’s true. A lot of people would argue that Rorschach is the hero because he refuses to compromise by being involved in the cover up. But even if Rorschach was utterly defeated, that doesn’t mean that conservatism was utterly defeated. EVERY character in Watchmen is a conservative. Ozymandias is a perfect example of a neo-conservative. He’s a progressive who wants peace so much that he is willing to go to war for it. He would fit in perfectly with intellectuals like Christopher Hitchens, Irving Kristol, Nick Cohen and the other former leftists who asserted that the War on Terror was necessary to secure long term peace.
Rorschach is a paleo-conservative, Dr. Manhattan is also a neo-conservative and The Comedian is a stereotypical right wing militarist.
The irony is that a left-wing anarchist like Alan Moore excelled when he was writing about characters who were basically super powered cops. He deserves a lot of credit for staying true to the characters and not trying to turn them into mouthpieces for his own political agenda.

Tony Isabella wrote:

He has voted Democratic in almost all Presidential elections and has never voted for a Bush.

Have we all forgotten that George W. Bush was never President in the DCU? Lex Luthor was elected President by DCU voters in 2000. And again, lest we forget, Jeff Pierce agreed to serve in Luthor’s Cabinet.

Ozymandias is a perfect example of a neo-conservative. He’s a progressive who wants peace so much that he is willing to go to war for it. He would fit in perfectly with intellectuals like Christopher Hitchens, Irving Kristol, Nick Cohen and the other former leftists who asserted that the War on Terror was necessary to secure long term peace….Rorschach is a paleo-conservative, Dr. Manhattan is also a neo-conservative and The Comedian is a stereotypical right wing militarist.

Wow, so much to disagree with. I don’t believe that you can solely classify someone as neo-con on the basis of foreign interventionism or hawkism, to be a neo-con also requires a distrust of government intervention in domestic markets. Merely because someone supported the War on Terror doesn’t make them a “former leftist”, merely an interventionist leftist. Consequentialist =/= neo-con. Rorschach is too anti-authority to be comfortably called “paleo-conservative” and the idea of ascribing political views on a being as detached from reality as Dr. Manhattan seems completely perverse. When a being can see into the future and reverse entropy the budget deficit is not going to be their primary concern.

Have we all forgotten that George W. Bush was never President in the DCU? Lex Luthor was elected President by DCU voters in 2000. And again, lest we forget, Jeff Pierce agreed to serve in Luthor’s Cabinet.

Then that would certainly help him not vote for Bush in 2000, right? ;)

Also, Pierce was in the Luthor Cabinet in an undercover capacity.

And also, can we dispel the myth that an entertainer or journalist bashing a Republican is “gutsy.” It’s not. It’s SMART BUSINESS. It was probably the single biggest thing he did to boost his popularity and ratings. Sticking up for a Republican is a gutsy thing for entertainers or mainstream journalists to do, not bashing them.

Then why did Air America crash and burn? Janeane Garofalo would be ten times more popular than John Stewart if this is all it took to succeed at business. Without really trying.

Carlos Futino

March 2, 2010 at 5:41 am

I know this discussion has come and gone, but I just had to giv my two cents: Does anybody really expect any news outlet to be trully unbiased? That’s impossible, specially when it comes to the OP/ED articles.
What should be expected from a outlet is that it clearly states all it’s biases (political, religious, etc…) veforehand, so you know what you’re getting on the way in.

Greg’s certainly right, at least as far as he claims that there is no longer any consensus on what “liberals” and “conservatives” think.

At least if these comments are anything to go by.

For a while there it was claimed that Green Arrow was “radically” liberal, thought by some to be anti-american even. It always stroke me oddly. After all, this is a particularly intolerant vigilante we were talking about – not to mention his past as a rich enterpreneur. Not a single liberal trace in him, ever.

Then why did Air America crash and burn? Janeane Garofalo would be ten times more popular than John Stewart if this is all it took to succeed at business. Without really trying.

First I don’t think Stewart and Colbert are totally unfunny, just not funny to the degree that their liberal fanbase likes to convince themselves they are. Even Tina Fey, who’s politically sympathetic to both of them, calls Stewart on his sycophantic audience:

RD: What pleases you more, applause or laughter?
Fey: Laughter. You can prompt applause with a sign. My friend, SNL writer Seth Meyers, coined the term clapter, which is when you do a political joke and people go, “Woo-hoo.” It means they sort of approve but didn’t really like it that much. You hear a lot of that on [whispers] The Daily Show.

Garafalo however is so unfunny that even just being sympathetic to her views isn’t enough to elevate her commentary to listenable. People obviously would rather take mildly clever commentary like Stewart and Colbert and elevate it to “genius” than do so with totally unfunny commentary like Garafalo.

Also, her radio show barely had any comedy, just ranting. And besides, if you’re a liberal and your viewpoint is echoed everywhere in the media, in almost every late night talk show host, every stand up comic, in NY Times, CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, every cable comedy show, every sitcom whenever a sitcom makes a political joke, etc, etc, why would you NEED to listen to radio show to get more liberal commentary. The reason conserative talk radio works is because it fills a need not met elsewhere. Liberal talk radio doesn’t have that same benefit, it’s just redundant to the broadcast and print media, which is already overwhelmingly liberal.

So, wait, now you’re agreeing with the idea that liberalism is more popular than conservatism in America and, thus, the corporations that run the news networks (and Comedy Central) hew liberal in their opinions in order to better reflect America?

That’s an interesting point for a conservative to be making…

It would be an interesting point for a conservative to be making, if I was actually making that point.

My point ACTUALLY was however, that for a man whose job is to massage the egos of self-satisfied libs who love to have their worldview parroted back at them and finds big money in it, doing something as big as attacking the President on the national stage and getting tons of media coverage for it is simply good exposure and good business, because liberals everywhere will now flock to his show who weren’t watching it already. His popularity among his liberal fanbase skyrocketed. For all this talk of how “gutsy” it was, what was the backlash exactly? All I see is benefits, as commentator after commentator gushed about the “genius” and “gutsiness.” Being openly liberal in Hollywood is “gutsy?” Seriously, people?

And I say the same if parties are reversed as well. Do you think it’s “gutsy” for Rush Limbaugh to criticize Obama? No, of course not. It would be smart business for him too. Criticizing Obama has gotten him a ton of publicity among HIS fanbase, something he himself has mentioned on his show when he says how the media coverage of his anti-Obama statements gave him the best ratings he had in over a decade. I like Rush but I’m not going to pretend he’s being “gutsy” when he’s actually just being media savvy.

I don’t get why you guys can’t just say you enjoy Colbert because he’s clever and you agree with him. Why elevate his sarcastic stand-up to “genius” and messianic levels? Geez.

That goes double for T.’s weird Colbert fixation.

My Colbert fixation is usually in response to the recurring “I’m using sarcasm therefore I’ve actually made a genius intellectual point” fixation used by many commenters. If the latter disappeared in these parts, so would the former. Since I think the growing popularity of the former has given rise in our society to the latter, I’ll continue to bring it up, thank you.

T. you can’t keep accusing someone of merely using sarcasm if you don’t know what it is. Your comments make clear you have little grasp of the underlying concept. You exhibit a lack of a sense of humor.

Here’s the thing. Most comedians are “liberal” because “conservatives” have a flawed sense of humor – they cannot laugh at themselves. The conservative sense of humor is predatory and essentially attack oriented, ripping down other folks for their amusement. When your humor comes from hurting others, your humor appeals to others who think they are like you, but it is not universal, merely juvenile.

Liberals aren’t big on hurting people for their own amusement.

Note the response above that claimed there were no conservative funny folks because they can’t make fun of the women and black man in power. You see? No thought to laughing at themselves.

Liberals make fun of themselves and critique other liberals. Conservatives don’t notice this, of course. The subtlety probably escapes them. Colbert’s sophistication probably escapes you, and that’s fine.

Burgas, how can you write stuff like this and then claim you can’t think of a left wing equivilent to the Tea Party? MoveOn actively supports, campaigns and funds candidates that support their ideology.

Right now they are financing candidates that support their view of gov healthcare.

If you are going to try and cover the sociology of comics at least do some work.

Mike….self-righteous much?

(God, I hate that rhetorical flourish, but it just works so well there, I couldn’t resist)

Note the response above that claimed there were no conservative funny folks because they can’t make fun of the women and black man in power. You see? No thought to laughing at themselves.

Liberals make fun of themselves and critique other liberals. Conservatives don’t notice this, of course. The subtlety probably escapes them. Colbert’s sophistication probably escapes you, and that’s fine.

Liberals are so comfortable making fun of themselves that they have a meltdown when I discuss the pitifully transparent fact that Colbert’s “genius” is nothing but sarcasm and a SNL-type Bill O’Reilly parody sketched stretched out into a years-long career.

Liberals are NOT good at laughing at themselves. This is what equal opportunity humor looks like to a liberal:
- Make fun of Republicans for not acting like liberals enough and moving too far to the right
- Make fun of Democrats for not acting like liberals enough and moving too far to the right

Yes it gives the illusion of bipartisan bashing, but it’s really pro-liberal no matter who the target it. I’ve seen little evidence that liberals can laugh at liberalism any more than conservatives are capable of making fun of conservatism.

Just rising to the occasion – and sick of the lies and distortions.

It’s great, if you take a stand on the left, the right calls you self-righteous, if you don’t, you’re wishy washy.

Yeah, you know what? I’ll be self-righteous. I’ve got the facts on my side.

Here’s the thing. We’re best off in this country when there is a political tension that works. Goes back to David Hume and his idea of opposing opposites whose resolution is not necessarily a thing to be desired.

Bringing up another Scot, Sir Walter Scott created historical fiction when he DIDN’T take sides in his fiction – a reader didn’t know which side he was on when finished, because Scott made them see BOTH sides, and left the reader considering the merits of both. The tension was entertaining.

Madison built off of both of those in the Federalist #10. It’s clear he thought gridlock stopped the worst abuses on the extremes, and that forced compromise would force better, fairer laws.

Bringing it back to the topic? That’s the thing – the best writers try to be entertaining, to use that tension, not to abuse it for a cause. A strident liberal clubbing me over the head with his ideology in a work of fiction annoys me as much as a strident right winger. I want to be entertained, not lectured to.

The problem arises when the right creates it’s own version of reality. Then our regular, more neutral reality NEVER matches up with what they perceive to be reality. This is what’s at work here, where the right sees EVERYTHING as biased against them. It’s not bias, it just doesn’t reflect their own Fox-managed personal worldview.

Sorry, J. H. I tend to ignore crazy organizations on both sides, so I forget about MoveOn. That’s a good example. I has nothing to do with my main point, however.

When I’m on a board or such, I try to be a really nice guy.
In fact, I go out of my way usually to avoid talking politics, cuz I come to places like this to talk COMICS.

But “T.” seeing as how you’ve gotten yourself all tied into knots, starting w/ an obvious (I would now argue intentional) misreading of my statement, and then having gone on this asinine screed that your on, doing nothing more then intentionally towing your party’s blindly lopsided polemic arguments, I just need to say you are what is wrong with this country.
Long Live The Middle!

But “T.” seeing as how you’ve gotten yourself all tied into knots

I admit I misread your initial statement but I’m hardly “tied into knots.” Try again.

P.S. Why do people who think they’re in the “middle” politically have such a superiority complex, but like to rail against conservatives and liberals for their supposed superiority complexes? The middle is just a spot on the political spectrum. it doesn’t automatically mean “open-minded” or level headed. “Middle” doesn’t automatically mean correct any more than liberal or conservative does. It’s just another viewpoint, and one can be just as biased toward the middle as they can toward the left or the right.

I find most of the time people who like to scream “Middle” so often just like doing so to trumpet their supposed superiority over lefties and righties. They are often the political equivalent of that annoying guy who likes to keep bringing up how he doesn’t own or watch a TV to anyone within earshot.

Trust me, T., plenty of us tree-hugging, granola-crunching, Welfare-state-loving pinkos who are destroying this country can take a joke at our own expense.

As for the middle, I’m at least left of center, far left on some issues, but I can see where the appeal lies. Politics in the US has become (or has always been) a Special-Interest dominated shouting match, with ideology only somewhat at the core. It’s hard to support a side one doesn’t agree with. I thought real health care reform had a chance under Obama and a Democratic supermajority, but it didn’t happen. It might not ever. Everyone’s caught up in getting their share of the pie while not losing voters in their constituency. The needs of the many get lost, or only partially met.

So, sit in the middle, don’t go all in, and you’re less likely to be disappointed by the side you’re supposed to support.

So, sit in the middle, don’t go all in, and you’re less likely to be disappointed by the side you’re supposed to support.

You can go just as passionate, stubborn and blind about the middle as you can about a left viewpoint or a right viewpoint. You’re committing the exact fallacy I just mentioned. If you think the middle is the best place to be because you have some valid arguments to make in support of a middle viewpoint I’m all for that. What I don’t support is this view that just saying “middle” is this magic, self-evident superior viewpoint just because it’s not technically left or right. Like I said, it’s like that guy who acts like he’s doing something intellectually worthwhile with his time just because he points out he’s NOT watching TV. 90% of the time it’s just something people say to proclaim their own superiority over others, which is just as transparent a form of cheerleading and bias as being a leftie or a rightie.

To quote the esteemed Mr. Goldwater: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

I almost agree with T.?!!?

The middle is a fallacy… because it assumes there actually IS a “right” and a left”.

I’m sure I’ve been labeled a “liberal” and a “leftie” for my views thus far (or maybe just an @$$#()!=), but there several things I believe that aren’t conveniently covered by that label. For example, coming from Vermont with its heritage of hunting and a culture where guns are tools as well as weapons, my views on gun laws don’t match many on the left. BUT because of my stand on other issues, I don’t match up with the NRA, either.

Now, to me the right seems to be a monolithic mass of punch-drunk, Fox-fired up crazies… but I’m willing to concede there must be some on the right who also don’t conveniently adhere to every belief espoused by the party elite.

Which brings us to the “middle” – for the middle to exist, folks on the right and left would have to be monolithically right or left, and that’s just not the case.

There is a case for compromise, when that compromise produces results – again, I refer you to Madison’s Federalist #10 – those who can forge such compromises could be described as being in the actual middle.

We have seen no compromises. There is no middle. Inaction does not define a group, actions do.

almost agree with T.?!!?

Everyone has one of these moments sooner or later. And they never seem to be happy about it. :D

The problem with the political spectrum of Left v. Right is that it purports to be a line. Supposedely, for every conservative thought you have, you move a notch to the right, and for every liberal thought, you move one to the left.

It’s much more complex than that, obviously. My father is very conservative in his personal beliefs: He believes homosexuality is wrong, he believes that the US should be a strong interventionist nation, he believes that the free market should be wide open with little regulation, he believes that criminals should be put to death for a wide variety of reasons. He helped found a very conservative, fundamentalist church congregation.

But he also believes that gay people should be able to get married. He feels that justice should be pursued absolutely and that ‘Ten guilty men should go free instead of one innocent man punished.’ He’s opposed to prayer in schools and public religious performances on biblical grounds.

So, if you just looked at that second paragraph, you’d think he was a flaming liberal. He’s not. He’s a personal conservative, but believes that some of the most basic tenets of the US are acceptance and diversity. He’s able to divide his personal beliefs from what the country stands for (in his opinion).

I respect that. We disagree on a tremendous amount, politically, but he’s open minded and thoughtful enough to respect that–as I respect his opinions.

As for me? I’m a fiscal conservative and social liberal. I’d be a libertarian if they weren’t just so darned wacky…

Regarding conservative comedians. I actually think there are quite a few conservative comedians they just aren’t overtly political in the sense that Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert are. Look at Jeff Dunam (sp?) the ventriloquist with the dead terrorist puppet. Tell me he’s not conservative. Or Larry the Cable Guy. His persona (which is consciously fabricated) is conservative.

“…except to the stoned lib slackers who use Daily Show and Colbert to get their actual news and applaud anything just for criticizing Bush.”

Bush isn’t president anymore. Get over it.

“Remarking that CNN undercounted Tea Party protest attendance numbers says that they got that story wrong…”

And we “know” that is wrong because Faux told us it was 2,000,000 people.

Wow…

We’ve gone from the right and left attacking each other on this board to the Mega Powers handshake happening and a tag team occurring against the middle. Just when you think you’ve seen it all…

At the risk of mis-interpreting these posts, I’m going to ask two questions after some summarized think throughs:

If there is no middle because the middle can only exist if one accepts that there is a left and a right, then therefore there must be no left or no right (because accepting that there is a left or right would mean that the middle would exist, which we’ve just stated is not true).

If there is no left or right, then comics (or other media) therefore can’t be espousing a left or right view because it doesn’t exist.

So my questions are simple: 1) How is it that any media can be liberal (or conservative) according to the logic here, and 2) what’s all the fuss about anyway?

Just askin’…

thomas narcejac

March 2, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Ted wrote:

“I don’t believe that you can solely classify someone as neo-con on the basis of foreign interventionism or hawkism, to be a neo-con also requires a distrust of government intervention in domestic markets. Merely because someone supported the War on Terror doesn’t make them a “former leftist”, merely an interventionist leftist…Rorschach is too anti-authority to be comfortably called paleo-conservative.”

Actually neoconservatives don’t usually mind big government. That’s why there is so much friction between paleoconservatives and neoconservatives. A lot of neoconservatives are former left-wing Trotskyites who believed that violent revolutions were sometimes necessary to depose fascist governments. The neoconservative movement rallied around George Bush as they saw his War on Terror as a way to depose the extreme right wing regimes of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Wikipedia page does a fairly good job of explaining the neocon movement– http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoconservative
Paleocons are basically the old fashioned/ Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party. They usually put their emphasis on smaller government, religious/traditional values, noninterventionist foreign policy and free market economics. The present conservative climate is mostly born out out of the Paleoconservative tradition (especially with regards to the Tea Parties).

T. said:

“CNN is the left version of Fox News.”

That, T., is a completely deluded statement. Thanks for playing.

D. Eris said his father believes:

“Ten guilty men should go free instead of one innocent man punished.”

Eric, your father is a good man.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 2, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Liberals are so comfortable making fun of themselves that they have a meltdown when I discuss the pitifully transparent fact that Colbert’s “genius” is nothing but sarcasm and a SNL-type Bill O’Reilly parody sketched stretched out into a years-long career.

T, the example was one particular speech, where the guy wasn’t using sarcasm – that isn’t people not being able to make fun of them, it’s people getting irritated that you either haven’t seen what you are attacking, or flat out lying about it.

Also, you weren’t making fun… not in a funny way, anyway.

Liberals are NOT good at laughing at themselves. This is what equal opportunity humor looks like to a liberal:
- Make fun of Republicans for not acting like liberals enough and moving too far to the right
- Make fun of Democrats for not acting like liberals enough and moving too far to the right

You’ve never seen a tv show with a ditsy hippie character?

Or do you mean in politically oriented comedy?
(ie. Daily Show, as opposed to a sitcom?)

That said, I’ve never seen an openly right-wing tv show that makes fun of any side, let alone it’s own.
Or is Beck meant to be a comedy take on a mentally disturbed right-winger conspiracy theorist, scared of his own shadow, always promising proof to his claims, yet changing the topic before he ever gets to that part?

. Even Tina Fey, who’s politically sympathetic to both of them, calls Stewart on his sycophantic audience:

I think she’s slightly off – that audience seems to usually be made up of idiots.
They cheer and holler for any accent he does, and often barely chuckle when he says something truly witty.

Zor-El of Argo

March 2, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Funky and T;

Do either of you actually ever watch Stewart or Colbert? They make fun of EVERYONE. Yes, it is clear they are both personally liberal, but niether let that stop them from making fun of Obama, Democrat congress-people, and talking heads from CNN, CNBC, and all the liberal-biased news shows as well as the Republicans and FNC talking heads.

And they’re both hilarious most of the time, reguardless of which side they’re taking shots at.

I wouldn’t call it a “spanking,” it was huffy, puffy embarassing sarcasm except to the stoned lib slackers who use Daily Show and Colbert to get their actual news and applaud anything just for criticizing Bush.

I have never toked, but I am a slacker, so much so that I can’t be arsed to watch Stewart and Colbert regularly, but there’s a reason Stewart’s become America’s most trusted newsman. Because the Daily Show cuts through all the godawful, mind-numbing bullshit the media shovels into our eyes and ears, exposing said bullshit for what it is– which, as a reminder, is bullshit– and tells the truth. It’s couched in humor, yes, because smart, truthy people are often funny, like that Mark Twain fella who used to write the Flash or something.

In other words, satire makes the best hacksaw with which to remove your opponents’ legs.

Do either of you actually ever watch Stewart or Colbert? They make fun of EVERYONE. Yes, it is clear they are both personally liberal, but niether let that stop them from making fun of Obama, Democrat congress-people, and talking heads from CNN, CNBC, and all the liberal-biased news shows as well as the Republicans and FNC talking heads.

And they’re both hilarious most of the time, reguardless of which side they’re taking shots at.

I’ve explained the “making fun of both sides” illusion that Stewart and Colbert do upthread. I’ll repeat it below:

Liberals are NOT good at laughing at themselves. This is what equal opportunity humor looks like to a liberal:
- Make fun of Republicans for not acting like liberals enough and moving too far to the right
- Make fun of Democrats for not acting like liberals enough and moving too far to the right

Basically, they only make fun of ONE side, whichever public figure is not acting liberal enough for their tastes on a particular day, whether that figure is Republican or Democrat.

Anyway, they can turn around and then say “See? We make fun of BOTH sides because they made fun of a Democrat and a Republican. But when you look further, you’ll see that both times shared the common thread of mocking someone for going against liberal sensibilities, so it’s really the same side attacked regardless. Which is fine, I just wish they’d be honest about it instead of pretending to be evenhanded.

I have never toked, but I am a slacker, so much so that I can’t be arsed to watch Stewart and Colbert regularly, but there’s a reason Stewart’s become America’s most trusted newsman.

Stewart is the lazy/post-everything/everything-exists-to-be-mocked-with-hip-detachment-and-irony generation’s favorite newsman.

Zor-El of Argo

March 2, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Jon Stewart does not claim to be a newsman. He himself calls his show “fake news.” “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” is a comedy show on Comedy Central. So he plays off the days headlines for his gags… so do latenight talk show hosts such as Leno, O’Brien, and Letterman. Stewart is not any kind of a newsman, he is a comedian. An extremely funny comedian.

And I so hope Ryan Reynolds goes on Jon Stewart’s show when it is time to plug the Green Lantern movie. I would love to see the gags Stewart can get from that!

Jon Stewart does not claim to be a newsman. He himself calls his show “fake news.” “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” is a comedy show on Comedy Central. So he plays off the days headlines for his gags… so do latenight talk show hosts such as Leno, O’Brien, and Letterman. Stewart is not any kind of a newsman, he is a comedian. An extremely funny comedian.

Yes, he’s only a comedian, when someone who’s more intellectual is trying to challenge him or take him to task…but suddenly when it’s time to do a hit job on someone like the Crossfire guys or Jim Cramer or John Yoo, suddenly he’s this populist voice of the people who’s so concerned about America…until you challenge him with something he can’t handle, at which point he just goes back to “Hey, I’m just a comedian.” Sometimes taking both stances back and forth rapid fire IN THE EXACT SAME INTERVIEW depending on which stance suits the particular statement posed to him, like in the Crossfire interview years ago.

“Hey, I’m concerned about X.Y and Z and feel like it’s bad for America and need to take you to task for it.”

“Well how about you inviting John Kerry on your show and just basically using it to promote him and do softball questions and not take him to task for anything.”

“Hey, I’m just a comedian, I read jokes and make fun of headlines. You guys are the serious news! I’m just wacky! By the way, back to my lecturing, condescending political high horse, let’s get back to talking about issues…”

Give me a break with the “doesn’t claim to be a newsman” thing. He claims to be whatever he has to claim in order to have his cake and eat it too as far as doing political hit jobs on people but not having to take responsibility for his own viewpoints..

Actually neoconservatives don’t usually mind big government.

I didn’t say that neo-cons didn’t like big government, I said that they didn’t like government intervention in domestic markets. Neo-cons certainly don’t mind government intervention in with regards to personal freedoms (e.g. Patriot Act) nor are they necessarily against government intervention into foreign markets (e.g. Washington consensus). But they do believe wholeheartedly in the free market, and it is the neo-con’s free market fundamentalism that lead to the GFC. Neo-cons have to support the free market, otherwise they would be on the right.

Paleocons are basically the old fashioned/ Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party. They usually put their emphasis on smaller government, religious/traditional values, noninterventionist foreign policy and free market economics.

I think you are conflating paleo-cons and libertarians, like Ron Paul, who are neither paleo- or neo-con. Yes paleo-cons and libertarians agree on smaller government, noninterventionist foreign policy and free market economics, but I can’t say that they agree on religious/traditional values. Take Ron Paul, who does have some values that might be called ‘traditional’ on social issues, but that the same time opposes “don’t ask, don’t tell” and believes that the states should be able to legalise medical marijuana, neither of which I would call ‘traditional’ values. There are plenty of rightist that support neither foreign interventionism or religious/traditional values, and I would call them libertarian.

Jon Stewart is unnerved that his fake news/comedy show is newsier than a “real” news show, and he is right to be so. As far as I’m concerned, he’s Edward R. Murrow with a light-up sign that says “laughter.”

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 2, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Do either of you actually ever watch Stewart or Colbert? They make fun of EVERYONE.

I do, and I think they do – in fact nothing in my posts, to me, suggests otherwise -but they definitely make more fun of the right than the left, though they do make fun of the left when they act like idiots.

I know this will make some cry about unfair generalizations, but I think right-wing politicians maybe easier to make fun of – they are much more likely to have a ‘family values’ type campaign, and thus much less likely to be caught out not practicing what they preach in a way that’s funny – ie. sex with drug dealing teenage boys.

That said, The Daily Show made just as much fun of Spritzer and Blagojevich as they would have a right-wing politician caught being so rotten.

Basically, they only make fun of ONE side, whichever public figure is not acting liberal enough for their tastes on a particular day, whether that figure is Republican or Democrat.

He’d already read that, and was saying he disagreed with it.

I’d say they are definitely on the left, and coming at it from a left wing point of view – which is fine for a show not passing itself off as actual news – but I’d still disagree with your assessment… that’s not the only way/reason they will make fun of a left wing personality.

Which is fine, I just wish they’d be honest about it instead of pretending to be evenhanded.

Were you angry at Hannity And Colmes, Fox’s show that gave both ‘sides’ a fair and balanced chance to talk after Al Franken, for his book ‘Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them’ got a research team from Havard to count up how much time was given to each side, and found out that the right, through Hannity, was given way more talking time than the left, through Colmes?

(Then again, the times have changed – now that Beck is on the channel, Hannity and O’Reilly seem quite reasonable, and at times, left leaning.)

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 2, 2010 at 7:02 pm

when it’s time to do a hit job on someone like the Crossfire guys or Jim Cramer

With Crossfire, he wasn’t on his show, he was on there’s, which was a news show – I think that makes it fine to treat it like a news show.

With Cramer, he started out by making fun of the guy for regularly being wrong in his predictions, and then accusing people who followed his predictions for being idiots.
It was pretty funny.
Then Cramer and his channel went of the defensive and tried to mock Stewart (it’s a big mistake to have presenters, who aren’t comedians, and don’t work off a script, try and do jokes about a comedian who has a script… he’s always going to be funnier) – and so then, in a clearly marked special episode of the daily show, he got Cramer on to explain his side.
And Cramer admitted he didn’t really have a defense.
(Speaking of Cramer, why are we angry about a polotical comedy show taking sides – he does stock tips, and he related a rise in the price of silver to the result of a republican politician… even though the rise took place before results were in… yeah, mainstream media has a left-wing bias. )

Who will win? Whose rhetoric is deadliest?

Actually, I’m with T. with regard to Stewart’s interview of John Yoo. Yoo is apparently a bit nutty, but on the show, he was trying to point out some very cogent points about America never having to deal with people who obviously aren’t enemy soldiers but aren’t common criminals, and that’s what he and the other lawyers were trying to do. Stewart kept coming back to torture, and Yoo kept trying to make the point that they were trying to determine what they could do to the terrorists. You might not agree with Yoo, but he was trying to discuss one thing, and it seemed like Stewart just couldn’t let go of waterboarding. Okay, torture is horrible, but it was like Stewart had a complete blind spot to what Yoo was saying. I was actually yelling at the television, “Would you just listen to what he’s saying! You can disagree with him all you want, but you’re not listening to him!” My wife thought it was funny that I was so mad. Usually I like it when Stewart points out some obvious idiocies that the people he doesn’t like partake in, but that was just annoying.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 2, 2010 at 8:42 pm

You might not agree with Yoo, but he was trying to discuss one thing, and it seemed like Stewart just couldn’t let go of waterboarding. Okay, torture is horrible, but it was like Stewart had a complete blind spot to what Yoo was saying.

I didn’t see the one with Yoo, but how long would you listen to a war criminal for, explaining their actions?
Be it a Nazi or Khmer Rouge, or Viet Cong?
Because torture is a war crime.

Oh, and before someone says I’m breaking Godwin’s law, with the Nazi reference, the Geneva convention, written and signed in response to WW2, and the actions of the Nazi’s, specifically bans torture of enemy combatants, which was why I chose it as a comparative.

There’s better, more in depth debate at CBR then any of the Cable news networks.

And more proof that Jon Stewart’s “I’m just a comedian, not anything more” shitck is totally disingenuous…when he couldn’t get the “gotcha” moment he so desired, and the lemmings who follow him expressed outrage at him for his failed political hit job, he apologized on his show the next day for failing to “nail” you:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-january-12-2010/intro—john-yoo-interview-reflections

Think about it…if he’s really just a comedian not to be taken seriously, why would he OR his audience feel he had an obligation to nail a member of a Republican administration to the wall? Why would his lemmings feel so outraged that he failed to pull it off? And why would he feel he owed them an apology?

Furthermore, wasn’t this the guy who took Crossfire to task for making political discourse into “gotcha” moments and cheap shots? That stressed the importance of civilized debate over demonization? Yet he apologizes for not successfully demonizing Yoo the night before.

Stop buying the lines people feed you…he obviously does NOT consider himself just a comedian except when it’s convenient. He’s obviously NOT above the fray and scoring cheap political points. He’s not an enlighted “genius” who takes the high ground, just another biased pundit pandering to his audience as blatantly as a Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck. He’s not a messiah or whatever else his lemmings call him this week..

He’s very much like Grant Morrison, a clever, talented guy who would be way less annoying to me if his crazy followers didn’t go so overboard in their praises of him.

that should have been “nail Yoo,” not “nail you.”

I didn’t see the one with Yoo, but how long would you listen to a war criminal for, explaining their actions?
Be it a Nazi or Khmer Rouge, or Viet Cong?
Because torture is a war crime.

Agreed. But Stewart didn’t interview a torturing war criminal on par with a Nazi or Jhmer Rouge or Viet Cong. He interviewed John Yoo.

With Cramer, he started out by making fun of the guy for regularly being wrong in his predictions, and then accusing people who followed his predictions for being idiots.
It was pretty funny.

Okay, so he made fun of the guy for being wrong in his predictions and made fun of his followers. And totally embarrassed and humiliated the guy. And went back using years and years and YEARS of clips. So here’s my question: if CNBC was so bad for so many years, to the point that Stewart was able to use clips of Cramer going all the way back to the Bush administration, WHY DID HE HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THAT PARTICULAR DAY IN 2009 TO TAKE HIM TO TASK?

Think about it. Why?

He’s been doing it for years, it’s so blatant as Stewart says, the clips from his show on CNBC that they used were numerous and dated back years ago. If he’s so bad, so dangerous, why did they only notice it in 2009 and deem it so urgent that it required a hit piece?

Easy: it was in response to CRAMER CRITICIZING OBAMA. All the way up to that point, Cramer was totally pro-Obama. Conveniently, he also somehow managed not to be this scourge to humanity and the finance world and investors that so desperately needed to be taken to task. Yet the moment Cramer and his peers at CNBC dare criticize Obama, Stewart breaks out his smug, condescending hit job and makes an example of him.

How is that any more principled or objective than Glenn Beck of Limbaugh or Hannity? At least those guys are open about their biased agendas. Like I said earlier, I don’t care if Stewart did what he did but he and his followers would just be honest about it. It’s this whole messianic, “only true objective newsman in America,” “making fun of both sides evenly.” “above the fray” and “elevating discourse” falsehoods that he and his lemmings keep spewing that annoy me.

He’s very much like Grant Morrison, a clever, talented guy who would be way less annoying to me if his crazy followers didn’t go so overboard in their praises of him.

Sometimes you make sense, T., but this is not one of those times.

T. has lowered himself to constantly calling others names. The instances are riddles throughout his posts in this thread. That’s usually where it ends uo when you are losing your argument.

Sometimes you make sense, T., but this is not one of those times.

T. has lowered himself to constantly calling others names. The instances are riddles throughout his posts in this thread. That’s usually where it ends uo when you are losing your argument.

Okay fine, ignore the Grant Morrison sentence, ignore any name calling you see like “lemmings.” I retract them. Feel free to respond to what’s left.

Well, T., what seems to left is one guy with a huge persecution complex.

Well, T., what seems to left is one guy with a huge persecution complex.

If you’re the type of person to be intellectually disingenuous about what I wrote, then yes, that would be what would appear to be left. But feedback from those types aren’t what I’m interested in, thanks.

Good ad hom, though. If I was incapable of addressing the substantive points of someone else’s argument I’d just not respond at all but that’s just me, to each his own.

Both of your replies are ad hom though. Get off your own high horse, and I’ll get off mine.

Both of your replies are ad hom though. Get off your own high horse, and I’ll get off mine.

You’re damn right they are. If you respond to my substantive points with an ad hom, I’m justified in responding right back with one. What else did you give me to respond with, given that you totally avoided any of my substantive points?

If you came at me with substantive arguments and THEN all I responded with were ad homs, THEN you can accuse me of being hypocritical and doing the exact same thing you did. Your equivalency argument fails here.

You’re the one who said feel free to respond to what’s left. I told you what I thought was left. You’ve been name-calling and hurling insults for three days, but the only thing it amounts to is “the whole world has a liberal bias”.

Zor-El of Argo

March 3, 2010 at 4:33 pm

This thread was intersting at the start… great piece Greg!… but now it just looks like one of those cable news shows where everyone keeps making the same point louder and nastier and no one actually listens to all of what the other person is saying. This is why I don’t watch CNN or Fox.

Have fun beating each other up. To quote another Comedy Central genius: “Screw you guys, I’m going home.”

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 3, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Think about it…if he’s really just a comedian not to be taken seriously, why would he OR his audience feel he had an obligation to nail a member of a Republican administration to the wall? Why would his lemmings feel so outraged that he failed to pull it off? And why would he feel he owed them an apology?

By acting out himself being a fisherman and John Yoo being a fish?
Whilst getting laughs, at his own expense, the entire time?
How was that not a comedian during that apology?

Why was he apologizing?
Probably because it probably wasn’t a particularly entertaining interview, and without ‘getting’ the guy, it was probably boring – because he did get caught up in an issue he felt about, and wasn’t making with the funny?

I think you’re the one on a fishing trip, who can’t let go now.

(And besides, it’s better apology than when Stewart caught out Hannity doing a piece about a right wing protest, using footage from a protest held months before, with many more people there. Instead of apologising to the audience, he apologised, sarcastically, to John Stewart – as if he was the only one misled).

Furthermore, wasn’t this the guy who took Crossfire to task for making political discourse into “gotcha” moments and cheap shots? That stressed the importance of civilized debate over demonization? Yet he apologizes for not successfully demonizing Yoo the night before.

Crossfire was a political debate show on a news channel.
Daily Show is on Comedy Central.

And again, didn’t aplogise for not ‘demonzing Yoo’ he apologised for the interview not going anywhere, as he focused too much on torture, and Yoo didn’t want to talk about it.

He’s not an enlighted “genius” who takes the high ground, just another biased pundit pandering to his audience as blatantly as a Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck.

Except, they are on a news channel, and he is on the comedy channel.
He doesn’t claim to be ‘Fair And Balanced’ as Fox news does.

I’m not sure what part of that doesn’t connect with you.

He’s very much like Grant Morrison, a clever, talented guy who would be way less annoying to me if his crazy followers didn’t go so overboard in their praises of him.

Then complain about their fans, stop complaining about them.

Also, I’ve never seen or heard anyone praise either Morrison or Stewart as much as you claim they do.

Agreed. But Stewart didn’t interview a torturing war criminal on par with a Nazi or Jhmer Rouge or Viet Cong. He interviewed John Yoo.

John Yoo, who wrote an official memo saying it was okay to torture people, and make it very hard for them to have their legal rights when arrested.
Had there been a war, and your side lost, he would have been tried as a war criminal.

To me, and I assume Stewart, it doesn’t matter whose side you are on, if you torture people, or allow it to happen, you are a war criminal.

if CNBC was so bad for so many years, to the point that Stewart was able to use clips of Cramer going all the way back to the Bush administration, WHY DID HE HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THAT PARTICULAR DAY IN 2009 TO TAKE HIM TO TASK?

Think about it. Why?

Stewart said why when it was a one off gag – because Cramer, on his show, did an op-ed piece saying anyone who got sucked under by the financial crisis, who invested in the companies that went under, was an idiot, and deserved the fate they got, and didn’t deserve any government assistance.
Stewart then played clips showing Cramer telling people to invest in a lot of those companies – the one’s he said you were an idiot if you invested in them.
On a couple, he said on his show not to sell with the companies that were in trouble, right up until they went under.
And yet his network played ads saying ‘In Cramer We Trust’, implying he has a god-like sense about these things.

Stewarts attacked Cramer for taking the stance that the individuals were idiots for going bankrupt and deserved no support, when if you’d invested the way he’d been telling you on his show, you would have been one of those bankrupt idiots.

Also, it was one little segment showing the hypocrisy of the ad, his statements and his advice.
It only became bigger, going back to the clips from years ago, when Cramer’s channel started having all it’s presenters defend him and take shots on the Daily Show, so the Daily Show kept showing clips of Cramer being wrong.

Yet the moment Cramer and his peers at CNBC dare criticize Obama, Stewart breaks out his smug, condescending hit job and makes an example of him.

Nope, it was when Cramer said those affected by the crisis shouldn’t be given handouts because they were idiots – when tv financial advisers such as himself had been telling people to invest in the affected companies.

Sorry T, nothing to do with his criticizing Obama.

How is that any more principled or objective than Glenn Beck of Limbaugh or Hannity?

Because he didn’t do anything until the guy was a total hypocrite, as opposed to attacking him for disagreeing with Stewart?

It’s this whole messianic, “only true objective newsman in America,” “making fun of both sides evenly.” “above the fray” and “elevating discourse” falsehoods that he and his lemmings keep spewing that annoy me.

I’m not sure where your messiah thing comes from, but he really did elevate the discourse with that one – a guy on a news channel, promoted by the channel as being always right, was giving out advice that would have led one to financial ruin, and then saying those who’d followed it were idiots.

I haven’t read all of the comments so forgive me if I am overlooking someone but are there any non-americans who find the american usage of the word “liberal” insane?

To the americans, out there… you do know that “liberal” does not mean what you think it means outside of the usa? right?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 3, 2010 at 9:31 pm

To the americans, out there… you do know that “liberal” does not mean what you think it means outside of the usa? right?

When I suggested that someone was making a play on words in a post using liberal it’s non-political sense I got: “… I’m ignoring the whole “non-political sense” thing. I have no idea what you’re talking about with that.”

So, no.

funny thing… i AM an american and i hate hate HATE what we call a liberal… though I am somewhat bemused that the rest of the world would call our “far-right conservatives” liberal :)

or our supposed “socialists” for that matter…

“you keep saying that word… I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

I remember some years ago I read an article in the Economist which talked about the lack of any major Liberal party in Germany. That was so strange from my American perspective. I have learned enough since then that I think I have a decent idea of what it means in a European context– free-market Capitalism, along with what we would consider ‘Socially Liberal’ policies. But the more I’ve read about politics in Europe, and to a lesser extent other parts of the world, the more I’ve decided that the political divisions in the US have never matched up very well with those in Europe, so anytime European political terms are used here the meanings are going to be changed somewhat. I suspect this is probably true of many other parts of the world as well. I’m not sure if the Australian meaning of ‘Liberal’ is quite the same, either. (It’s certainly different from ours.)
The American definition of ‘Conservative’ matches up better, but I think even it has some slightly different connotations.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 3, 2010 at 11:01 pm

I’m not sure if the Australian meaning of ‘Liberal’ is quite the same, either. (It’s certainly different from ours.)

We’re totally screwed up with that one!

Liberal, the word means the same, and Liberal, as a political concept means the same.

BUT, our major centrist right party – kind of our version of the Republicans, but less crazy – are called the ‘Liberal Party’.

So we have the ‘Liberal Party’ who are conservatives.

(Which means in one sense, Bush had the backing of the Liberals!)

Your Funkiness– Yeah, I knew that the Australian Liberal Party was the conservative one, and that Howard was constantly kissing Bush’s butt (but so was Tony Blair, and he was from a Left-wing Socialist party). But since the European definition of ‘Liberal’ overlaps somewhat with the usual American idea of ‘Conservative’ (at least in terms of Free-market Capitalism), I wasn’t quite sure if the Australian meaning of ‘Liberal’ was sufficiently different from the European definition.
As long as we’re discussing the strange names of Australian parties, I’ve often read that Australia uses the common British spelling for words such as ‘colour’ and ‘labour’, but I know that the Australian Labor Party has always used the US spelling. What’s the deal with that?

Also, Pierce was in the Luthor Cabinet in an undercover capacity.

It’s hardly undercover when Luthor knows he’s Black Lightning.

And really, did anything ever really come of the idea that he was there to be an inside operative? The Secretary of Education doesn’t exactly have the highest security clearance, and Luthor’s naturally going to be on his best behavior around a known superhero. I seem to recall that he joined up not to spy, but simply because he thought he could do good in the role.

And really, did anything ever really come of the idea that he was there to be an inside operative?

Yes, he gained contacts with people who figured that anyone involved with Lex Luthor’s administration could be trusted. Meltzer addressed this in his Justice League run, when he added Lightning to the team.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 4, 2010 at 3:36 pm

If you respond to my substantive points with an ad hom, I’m justified in responding right back with one.

And when someone responds with substance, showing why a rant was wrong, you disappear.

As long as we’re discussing the strange names of Australian parties, I’ve often read that Australia uses the common British spelling for words such as ‘colour’ and ‘labour’, but I know that the Australian Labor Party has always used the US spelling. What’s the deal with that?

I hadn’t even noticed…

From a quick bit of looking around, it was because of a pesky American!
Some American born chap, King O’Malley, was big in the party at the time 1912, and wanted to ‘modernise’ the spelling – apparently the US Labor movement was an influence on them, and also, they wanted to be a separate from the Australian ‘labour movement’ at the time (to seem less of a one note party I guess).
Also, apparently, up until around that time, the spelling of the word had been a lot more flexible.
(All these reasons are given on wikipedia, with none being pointed to as ‘THE’ reason.

King O’Malley, was big in the party at the time 1912,

King O’Malley also introduced the term ‘caucus’ into Australian politics, although in Australia it refers to the group of all the members of one party in parliament, rather than any particular meeting of the same.

Ok … now I want a comic starring King O’Malley.

a very well written and thought out blog, and absolutely true. I myself politically lean to the left; and agree with what is said. Superheros are of course right wingers, they have to be. Look at the characters in Watchmen, especially Rorschach.
If Superheros were liberals they wouldn’t beat their enemies into a bloody pulp for every infraction of moral choices. They would instead try to help the villains, support them with money etc.
In my personal world view the most Liberal Hero of the past Decade was Nicieza’s Cable in the Cable/Deadpool run. He was out to change the status quo in order to bring about peace and unity. The fact that his plans included giant fucking guns, his own insane powers or Deadpool made me think about how to bring about his goals in the real world. you would have t be so far to the left, the nontraditional world, in order to even think about the action

I love this type of article! Too many times, people in entertainment shy away from discussing real world issues so as to not alienate consumers. Politics permeates all of our lives and the Tea Party backlash at Capt. America illustrates just that. Frankly, Brubaker should have just told them to go screw themselves, but hey that’s just me. They want superheroes to think like they do, go become a writer and do what you can like Bill Willingham (love Fables, not so much his politics though).

Comicbook heroes being written by ‘liberals’ (a term we have dissected ad nauseum) does mean they will reflect the writers’ POV. It’s why one writer’s Superman can only shatter mountains while another writer’s Supes can move the Earth. Goes with the territory. In terms of the real world, Mark Millar hinted at what he thought these heroes would be like in the real world and Capt. America being from the 1940s would probably be a McCain-type conservative (meaning leaning right as I don’t think McCain is a moderate despite our media’s contention to the contrary). Similarly, as an industrialist Tony Stark would probably be all over the free enterprise ideology (and no doubt blame over-regulation on the recent fiscal crisis as opposed to the reality that is unfettered markets). I do agree that nearly all the scientist types would be lefties (polls show higher education at the PhD level tends to mean you are progressive) and thus Reed Richards, Hank Pym, Peter Parker would all be leftists.

One of the problems is that most average Americans no longer agree with how political scientists define liberal and conservative. Take the Nazis/fascism, which conservatives outside academia now insist is a ‘leftist’ philosophy despite the fact that Nazis favored corporations, were ultranationalists and big-time backers of ‘values’, all antithetical to the totalitarian communism (as opposed to Western Social Democrat Commies in France and Italy who are more like the Green Party here in the US) of the Soviets, which is a far left ideology. Numerous other planes of assessing politics exist, BUT I do tend to lean towards the academic perspective as opposed to what the average American wants to believe. This has been the political spectrum for decades so why is it suddenly invalid just because people want their view to be seen as pristine?

The Tea Baggers are both radical and frankly some of the worst informed people I’ve ever seen. They were started as a GOP funded group to be ‘grassroots’-like and have now gotten a bit out of control interestingly enough. I’d frankly put them in the Frank Miller camp myself as they seem to lack any sense of reality, viewing regulation of markets as anathema to free enterprise (which explains why it worked so well until Raygun came along I guess) and do seem to be very religious to the point of losing their less govt. rhetoric when it comes to abortion rights for example. In short, they are radical Republicans of the same ilk that has been prevalent for years now. The old school conservatives who just wanted to maintain the status quo are still around, but they tend to cater to this group. The fact that they’d be so up in arms over a Capt. America comic simply confirms how nuts they are. Can’t take criticism, unable to formulate real solutions and unrealistic fears of govt. Sounds pretty GOP to me.

Politics in comics can be great for social commentary. Alan Moore has not hid the fact that he despised Margaret Thatcher (Raygun-lite for the UK) who made, and I’m paraphrasing, England a cold place and V for Vendetta is a reflection of Moore’s view of where the rightwing in his country could take them. Writers (and their parent companies) need to, in the batshit words of Frank Miller, grow a pair and write what they want and make commentary if they feel the need. If you’re like Willingham and you make Bigby, for example, a fan of Israel’s behavior in the Mideast, hey go ahead, but don’t expect some of us to not take the opportunity to say that blows. One difference between us progressives (which I am, shocker!) is that we can both dish and take criticism, while the Sarah Palins of the world whine incessantly about a broken media that she ironically has joined.

whatever..

Nice column, but I think its stating the obvious. There is one strange sentence towards the end:
“I think we’d all be better off if we got rid of income taxes…but I think we should raise taxes on other things to make up the difference.”
Whoa! I’m reading this in a country in Europe with a system of strongly progressive income tax, and that suggestion just sounds totally cooky. And what are the taxes you would raise? If you would raise for example the sales tax that would just exacerbate the inequality created since poor people have to eat also, you know.
Anyone suggesting the elimination of income taxes would, I think, be categorized as a card carrying right winger anywhere in Europe.
I don’t mean to start a debate over what the best tax policy is, but thought I should mention this in case someone accuses the writer of the column of being too liberal.

A very poignant article. It reminds me immensely of Robert McChesney’s work as a media rhetorician in the medium of news. He finds that the news often has a conservative bias although many hide behind the facade of being liberal. A very strong piece on his theories are “Understanding U.S. Journalism II: Right-Wing Criticism and Political Coverage” printed in 2004.

Northlander-Hey starting a debate is good! I mean as long as we can all be adults and not insult each other over disagreements!

I also agree that getting rid of income taxes is both a radical rightwing idea and an unrealistic one that would ultimately hurt the working people by taxing them in their daily lives and consumption. Income taxes are the equalizer that attempts to address the irregular way capitalism rewards the rich. Wealth has a momentum and realistically it is not possible, in my view, that one person can work 1000 times harder than someone else. Consumption taxes will mean less revenue and a lot of people won’t be able to feed themselves properly as well. It is a veiled way of trying to push that other seemingly fair form of taxation that rightwingers have wanted for years, the flat tax, which again would push the burden on the working class.

Taxes are about (discretionary) disposable income that working people have little of and rich people have a lot of. Thus, the rich are taxed higher (and it used to be much higher and worked fine before Raygun turned things upside-down) because it doesn’t hurt them and if they’re are productive and use their money as actual investments in society, they get a write-off and can potentially prosper more. People with less discretionary income do, of course, spend everything to live and thus drive the economy, while many rich people don’t spend quite so much overall (they will buy the occasional luxury item or large real estate acquisition, but nothing like the daily spending of the middle and lower classes). A progressive tax that is higher on the richest Americans than it is now (it should go back to pre-Raygun days) would solve our current budget shortfalls and it is stupid to spend so much money on wars if you aren’t going to pay for them (and borrow from China instead).

MechanisticMoth-Much of the conservative-leaning of the media (or preservation of the status quo) is discussed quite well in Manufacturing Consent by Chomsky and Herman. Indeed, the ‘liberal’ bias appears to be that if you call out misinformation that rightwingers spout constantly (not that Dems don’t because they do as well), then you’re a liberal. One GOP congressman recently insisted that the GOP had a great alternative to healthcare reform and suggested one solution was tort reform and the journalist actually responded that that would only impact less than 1% of costs and the guy just clammed up! Liberal bias indeed! Anti-fact bias=liberal bias is how it goes. Short palatable soundbytes that don’t rock the boat or really shed much light on what’s going all the time.

Good argument. In general, I agree. I’ve always noticed that superheroes are, fundamentally, about maintaining the status quo. Thus, villians are almost always easily and obviously “evil” – they rob banks or they are psychotic murderers or the like. But it’s politically-motivated supervillians who are generally missing in comics – those who may, in fact, actually have a good point. Dealing with politically sophisticated villains is a problem for a conventional superhero, who is really only there as a big cop.

Conservatism can be an intelligent movement and disposition. Historically, conservatives have been about “preserving” things. It is easy to see why that can easily lead to intolerance towards others. But, at the same time, traditional conservatives were not opposed to things like government programs and interventions if these had a “conservative” effect.

…uh, I like it when Cap punches people!

*runs from debate entirely*

(Incidentally, well-written piece, Greg, very thought-provoking, although years of reading comics and analysis about them makes me lean more and more away from the Marvel and DC universe when looking for either entertaining and/or thought-provoking comics).

Northlander: I don’t really want to tax essential items, but raising a sales tax on non-essential items would work, probably (it might not, though). Phoenix just enacted a food tax, which I think is the most idiotically wrong-headed idea I’ve ever heard. But raising the sales tax on, say, comics from 8% to even 10-12% might make a significant difference. It might lead to the poor buying fewer non-essential items, but I doubt it would change the buying habits of those who could afford it. I’m just spitballing, of course. I just think there ought to be something better than simply taxing income.

Nobody see’s Civil War like. If they did they wouldn’t have just rectconed out the last 4 years of Iron Man stories. Those were some of my favorite stories and they got rid of them of because to many people were still calling Iron Man a fascist. This is nonsense

Greg, but taxes on items in-general won’t raise as much revenue as raising taxes on the upper 2% of Americans who now have a majority of income in this country and aren’t spending it like the lesser earning Americans. There’s no reason to enact a tax on non essentials as spending is what drives the economy and most spending is done by those who have to spend to live (and think they need certain items like game consoles or comics etc.). Why try to take money from those who already have little as opposed to taxing the richest Americans who won’t be adversely impacted. Historically, back when taxes on the superrich were much higher, we had much lower deficits and debt and there were still fabulously rich people. Propaganda has been pushed that makes people think that rich people drive the economy by creating jobs via trickle down. This is simply not the case. If it was, I’d be the first to say keep taxes low on the richest Americans. In reality, the super wealthy tend to hoard money and only really allow banks and financial institutions to gamble on complex financial instruments such as derivatives that contribute little to the economy except further distributing money to the richest Americans. No tax hikes on consumer goods and definitely no flat tax!

Shaun-It would be nice to see a villain robbing a bank with the basic intent to do something about their constant theft. Anyone else notice how there are fees for just everything? Don’t use your card enough, incur a fee! I mean come on, how is that convenient for anyone except the banks who need to regulated!

Johnny: That’s true. That’s why the Tea Party’s proposal is so radical. I think it could work, but I don’t believe the government would make it work. I get where the Tea Party is coming from, though – very rich people can always find loopholes, and people like me (well, my wife, as I don’t work) get squeezed quite a bit. That’s why the Tea Party exists. They’re not superrich, they’re middle class people who are grumpy about what they perceive as rich people getting richer and poor people not paying anything. I just wish there was a better way to tax people, but nobody wants to figure it out.

Pretty interesting stuff. Nice to see someone who finally sees Civil War for what it was.

I think the bit about what the Tea Party people want never having existed short of the Articles of Confederation is a bit confused. What they want it was came in to replace the Articles of Confederation and if you say that is what we have NOW, you’re a little lost. What we have now started way over to one side, just shy of the near anarchy of the Articles, and has swung so far back the other direction to the overbearing style of government we thought we left behind in England those founders wouldn’t recognize it.

As far as a lot of the other political discussion going… taxes, media bias, etc… on it’s really clear who’s a thinker and who’s a regurgitator of junk information.

Greg-There is a better way, going back to how things were before Ronald Reagan. Remember the S&L scandal with Keating Five? Happened on his watch. Real average income of most Americans stagnated compared to the superrich and inflation. The better way IS the progressive income tax that goes up steeply for the richest and drops to zero for the very poor. Now the poor end up contributing by spending to stay alive so that’s taken care of in terms of stimulating the economy.

The Tea Party people are pawns. They were created as pawns (by the GOP and Fox News) to protest everything Obama did even when it jibed with their views. They aren’t principled. They didn’t protest when Bush did much worse with regards to fiscal responsibility and didn’t bat an eyelash when Cheney famously said, ‘deficits don’t matter.’ From the horses’ mouth. The Tea Partiers are a bit out of control as the GOP find themselves trying to cater to them more and more, which is frankly kind of funny.

I think one of the problems is that the Tea Party folks simply don’t know the Constitution. It does for example state that the govt. shall ‘promote the general Welfare’ (gotta make their heads spin with that word), while the Tea Baggers are simply supporting policies that will just do more damage along the lines of Bush and Reagan. Also, the Tea Baggers are still languishing in the belief that they will one day become rich (it’s why so many tolerate this behavior even though statistically odds are against it) and thus don’t want to ‘punish’ the rich, but think the bailouts are wrong. Problem is without the bailout we would have had a major depression. What should have been done is a bailout AND take-over of the financial institutions (and firing the CEOs and others of course) that should have been broken up into little pieces, regulated again back to the pre-Reagan days, and sold back to the public after recouping the losses with interest. No more derivatives and banks doing a zillion things outside their role as banks. Instead, and this was started under Bush, Paulson supported the idea that a no strings attached policy of giving away money was the best way to go. These are some of the problems we are facing and doing away with a progressive income tax will only make matters MUCH MUCH worse. We need to look where the money is and use that money to rebuild infrastructure (thus creating jobs) and eliminate the deficit and pay down the debt. That will only come from the richest Americans who have most of the money in this country and not from the average Americans who really should have THEIR taxes lowered. This is one of the things Obama has done (not to the level I would like) right, raising taxes on the richest and lowering them for the rest. I don’t agree with O on a lot of things, including some continuation of Bush’s bailout policies, BUT there has been some reversal of that as well lately. Have to wait and see what happens.

Sorry, you don’t get to make up your own meaning of “promote the general Welfare.” Instead of going by something you got off the Huffington Post site or some such, you need to look at the constitution and the supporting writings of the people who wrote and signed it. It has nothing to do with providing for your every need.

As far as all the taxing and other things, all you have to do is look to history to see how these things end up. Keep printing money, keep borrowing money, keep strangling the JOB CREATORS, keep spending more and more and more on things we may WANT but do not NEED… there is history to show you what happens time and time again. And it doesn’t work out the way you want it to… unless you WANT near complete system failure. It’s like saying you’re trying to help a really bad finger cut by slicing open your wrist.

Kel-not my view or Huffington Post(?!). I do read the Nation, watch Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and Bill Moyers Journal and academic journals so you might want to look to criticize me from that front if your point is my sources are flawed as opposed to my argument. I actually had to read the Jefferson Paper while taking a class on constituent power and they DON’T argue about taking care of every need, but allowing for the greater good, absolutely. Nor do I few them as celestial beings who are infallible. Jefferson did think that every generation a revolution would do some good so that’s how radical they were.

Individual rich people AREN’T job creators. It’s their companies (if they own them or are affiliated with them in some fashion) that generally do create jobs, but they are also not with problems as most are transnational and think nothing of shipping jobs elsewhere for cheap labor in a short-term bent to drive profits up (even if they are profitable here). It is why a progressive individual income tax that goes up steeply for the richest Americans works, HISTORICALLY. Note: pre-Reagan, real average income as well as deficits and debts and post-Reagan. Let me get this straight, the current financial meltdown of unregulated capitalism IS NOT complete system failure? What country are you living in?! We have all seen what lack of regulation and lowering taxes on those with most of the money has done. How much worse does it have to get before we stop worshiping the market as opposed to using it for the greater good?

I disagree with this article on the points about Captain America’s side being the conservative side in Civil War. In the comic he was fighting against more government control over their actions(to parallel the increased security out of paranoia after 9-11. The public is scared so the government goes overboard with measures like the patriot act. Stamford is supposed to be the equivalent of the twin towers.)

Well said! being a lefty i have to tell you that your completely right. And the simple thought of a real live Batman is outrageous. I love to read about it do. But i also enjoy the tv series “Dexter”. And i’m not pro serial killers.

Jm: Hey, that’s cool. “Government control” is a classic lefty agenda, which is why a great deal of what Bush did isn’t “conservative.” But I made my point, and you disagree. That’s what America is all about!

Kel: What I meant was the lack of central government control is very pre-Constitution. The Constitution was supposed to create a very strong central government and then, almost immediately, everyone began arguing about what it meant. The Tea Party people want to return to a “pure” government in which the Constitution was Holy Writ, but the Constitution was “compromised” almost immediately. The states’ rights thing is what I meant when I wrote of the Articles of Confederation. And nothing got done because the central government was so weak. If we do what the Tea Party wants, we will have the framework for a strong central government, but in practice, the states will be in charge. And the United States will be plural again instread of singular, which I doubt is what the Tea Party really wants. I could be wrong.

Just to throw in on the tax debate – I think that Greg is completely wrong about eliminating income tax. One of the reasons that the US is in the financial mess that it is is because Bush Jr. greatly reduced taxes on the wealthiest part of the US population and greatly reduced government revenue as a result.

Income tax is fair and essential to the functioning of a modern government. At the least, if income tax is eliminated, it must be replaced by an equivalent source. Goods and services taxes are inherently unfair and hit the poor massively disproportionately hard. Corporate taxes could replace income tax, but then they have potentially larger economic costs. Income tax is definitely the way to go.

I think it was Oliver Wendell Holmes who said that “tax is the price we pay for civilization”. That’s as true now as ever.

Greg, you may be wrong about what the Tea Party wants. In a lot of the US, “states’ rights” is shorthand for people wanting to keep out the federal government. In the US South, this is particularly true and SR is also a shorthand for maintaining racial policies, both directly and indirectly, that were changed or subject to pressure from the federal government. For many TP supporters, “small government” means getting the federal government out of their way because they are confident in their ability to control their state governments. SR and small government are also shorthand for American racial politics. Keeping the government small and preventing the emergence of social welfare programs (even things that are commonsensical, like healthcare) is seen as a way to prevent racial minorities from benefiting from government action. Welfare politics are often seen as the politics of big government giving the tax dollars of white voters to non-white groups. I would not underestimate the extent to which American racial politics and animus are at the foundations of the TP movement.

On a different issue, it was my understanding that the US states were given considerable power when the union was first created and that the expansion of federal power happened over time and through Supreme Court intepretations. Ultimately, the issue of which level of government was paramount was settled (at least for the time) by the Civil War. Am I wrong on that, or is that too simplistic an assessment?

Bringing this all back to comics, I think that the Civil War was always incoherent. I think that Greg is absolutely right to compare the argument in CW to the gun debate in the US. I’ve made arguments in other threads that, if the CW had taken place in real life, Iron Man’s side would have been in the right and certainly was the most reasonable side -society has the right to protect itself against superhumanly powerful beings who might be dangerous to everyone.

At one point, in the Alpha Flight mini-series that was published during the CW era, one of the Canadian characters makes the point that Canada in the MU has had superhuman registration for a long time and that it was never a problem here. That makes Greg’s case even stronger, since in Canada we do require the registration of firearms.

However, the issues in CW were never really coherent. At least in part, Cap’s motivation was a genuine concern that the government would come to control superhumans and use them for evil purposes. Again, this indicates a profound distrust of the government, but it is an idea that could have come from either the political left or radical right.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 7, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Ok … now I want a comic starring King O’Malley.

I went to a bar named after him, during a new years eve spent in the nation’s capital.

Horrible place to spend new years eve (the capital that is, the bar was decent).

He himself never touched the drink, making it odd he had such an effect on the Labor party – he clearly didn’t belong.

You people worry too much. No reason to get this excited. Yes there is a left wing bias in the media and it is there because most of the media are coming from a New York, L.A./California, Boston, etc. state of mind. It comes through in comics, because most writers swing that way themselves. That’s just the way it is. I’m firm in my belief, though, that most comics shouldn’t be affected by politics, because if you’ve got a guy who can melt you with his eyes, that’s going to change foreign policy pretty quickly. The only thing specific political commentary in comics serves to do is to date the comics it’s put in.

Indeed, getting back to the comics end, the Civil War can be viewed in various ways with Stark taking the Bush administration view of more societal control and Cap taking the govt shouldn’t regular heroes line. In reality, both positions are pretty rightwing frankly.

Jon-No can’t agree that there is a leftwing media bias. That’s a myth perpetrated by Fox to justify their absurd non-reporting. One can argue that what I watch is leftist, but the MSM is solidly corporatist and looks to promote the status quo even if individual journalists may harbor leftist views at a personal level, their bosses sure don’t.

As for politics in comics, it depends. I think Alan Moore does a pretty good job with it. In short, it depends. Also, Ex Machina did a great job of intertwining superheroism and politics, giving a hero a political position. Then there was Warren Ellis’ (who is quite political) Black Summer that was entertaining (I don’t want Bush/Cheney and company dead, but prosecuted in court, hell yes). So politics in comics, sometimes very entertaining.

uh regulate as opposed to ‘regular’ heroes.

Sick of this “left wing bias” in comic books/media talk. The left wing of the Democratic party holds beliefs that were considered centrist decades ago. Compared to where this country used to be, the current center is conservative right, and the current right would have been thought of as far right wing nuts.

One telling thing that Mr. Burgas’ redefining of terms for this column shows is just how far the titles, the “brand names”, have moved from the original concepts. Cap’s stance in Civil War IS a “conservative” stance in the way the term was traditionally presented. BUT “The Conservatives” of our current US system would have opposed him politically because of the stands they take today. And let’s face it, when a “conservative” President and a “conservative” Congress collude to blow up the deficit, intercede in a foreign country that had not attacked us with a new preemptive strategy, and not only finance tax cuts but also the cost of 2 wars with loans from China, PLUS help finance and create private mercenary armies to help hide the actual cost of those wars… there nothing much small “c” conservative about any of that. That’s one party in control fascism, and that’s the way these modern so-called conservatives liked it best.

And please shut up about states rights, all you self-identifying Reagan loving right wingers. Soon as Reagan wanted to get his way – for example, when he decided to violate personal liberties and demand that ALL states raise their drinking ages to 21 – he completely abandoned the actual ideal of states rights, holding the states’ highway funds, monies the citizens of those individual states had contributed into the government for services, HOSTAGE. In a blunt exercise fo raw federalism, Reagan threatened any states who would not comply with his EDICT with no funding. As someone stated above, the only time the right wing wants states rights is when it comes to repealing federal civil rights laws. States Rights is code for racist policy on the right.

The best point made above? Getting too specifically political in your comic instantly dates it.

I’m not saying comics don’t have biases. They all do. Some subtle, some not so subtle.

Course, I am the guy who wrote & drew “Holy Shit: or…Pat Robertson Is The Anti-Christ”

It’s kind of unsubtly left wing biased…

Johnny-Maybe the bosses don’t, but we know where Katie Couric, Brian Williams, and even Diane Sawyer (who, ironically, worked for Nixon, by the way) stand. It ain’t in the middle, and it certainly isn’t to the right. They make their feelings well known pretty quickly. Across the board, there’s a predominantly left swing to it. Jon Stewart’s a perfect example. But, that’s just how it comes across to me.
I think in Wildstorm stuff or books that aren’t in the major 2′s continuity, political commentary is fine, but when you’re working with characters that are over 70 years old, and hopefully going to go on for a while longer, then that’s really not something that should be tackled head on, I think. But that’s just me.

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thomasnarcejac

March 7, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I think that superheroes are somewhat conservative in the sense that they are a form of law enforcement much like policemen or members of the U.S. Military (two groups which are usually conservative). This might explain why liberal writers who try to force their beliefs onto these characters are some of the worst writers in the comics industry.
When Alan Moore explored the superhero archetype in Watchmen, it didn’t take him long to realize that these characters were antithetical to his left-wing/anarchist world-view. To his credit he didn’t try to twist the characters to fit his his political views but it did seem to sour him on the concept of superheroes. I think that Moore recognized that liberal proselytizing did not mesh with the superhero genre (although he later explored some of his left wing views in indie comics like Brought to Light).
There are some other very good superhero writers who also happen to be left-wingers. But the majority of them do not push the politics in their comics (something that Ed Brubaker needs to take note of).

Jon-The bosses are really all that matters in corporate America as the employees follow the corporate line. With that said, Brian Williams has annoyed me on more than one occasion and seems like a corporate man to me through and through. His coverage of the bail-out from the Bush period was so administration-fed, I’m wondering where his leftwing bias came into play? As for Katie, she’s a little better and seems more intent on proving herself than showing her leftist colors. Diane Sawyer, maybe, I don’t really follow her as she seems like just another talking head on the corporate MSM. Really, the MSM is corporatist and then there’s Fox, talk radio, Wall St. Journal, NY Post etc. The only real leftwing media is found on independent outlets and public television, which also features the McLaughlin Group and other righties. So I can’t agree to a leftwing bias.

Jon Stewart and Colbert, well yes I’d say they do count as left-leaning, BUT only barely as they really just point out the absurdities and the rightwing has an almost monopoly on wackiness these days. The Dems have no spine, but the GOP are really nuts. Examples can be cited!

Again, really depends on how it’s done. I’ve never been big on the ‘sacred’ aspect of mainstream DC/Marvel characters and like to see things shaken up!

I have a hard time buying into the general premise of this, which makes the rest harder to digest. You’re establishing the maintenance of a “status quo” to assert that comics are conservative in nature? Superhero comics were conceived as escapist literature. A man named Captain America beating the shit out of NAZIs isn’t conservative by means of a status quo, it establises a protagonist all readers can support, and an antagonist all readers can enjoy watching suffer defeat. The political subtones of that kind of story present a lot less argumentative material, and maintaining that status quo ensures less people taking exception to the material for political reasons. And, as many characters have existed for 30+ years, these things become hallmarks of their stories. Even today, everyone can get behind Captain America beating up the Red Skull. Status quo isn’t conservative, it’s not even political, it’s standardized story telling in fantasy literature. Your argument ostensibly asserts that the long-established structure of comic story telling is inherently conervative in nature, which at best is reaching, and at worst, just plain lazy. Active, recent stories in comics have been undeniably liberal, on the surface, where any buffoon could decipher the bias without having to waid through the subtext to get it. And my only complaint about this would be the simple fact that I don’t think writers should inherently project their personal politics on characters, IF those characters don’t seem fitting to that ideology. And even still, to a certain extent, some super heroes should be above political squabbling as it is. As such, I think the biggest offense here is shameless political plugging (no matter in what direction) to fill panels. The nature of Captain America (which I realize has been the only example I’ve used) lends itself to some political expression, but most superheroes do not require a needless venture into the political arena.

Wow. There are so many false statements, straw men, rhetorical misdirections, and the like in the above article that I wouldn’t even know where to begin to reply.

Bush “started” two wars “because that’s what conservatives do”?

The deficit under Bush 43 was all because of the wars, not primarily because of a 96% increase in entitlement spending and the addition of almost 2000 new subsidy programs?

Batman is “fascist” (by which I take it the writer doesn’t mean national socialist or corporatist, the actual meaning of “fascist”)?

The Tea Party is actually a bunch of radical hippies? (Well, someone decided to rip off David Brooks’ column from this week. One does not typically find deep thought or penetrating analysis in the NYT, BTW.)

And so on.

One has to be an honest broker to have even a shot at an honest analysis. This was a poor attempt, even by the standards one would expect from a guy who would professes to love to have anarchy.

Johnny-2006 and 2008 election coverage, on all accounts and stations, excluding Fox, which was already seen as conservative, showed where everyone of them stood if you didn’t know from other pieces of it. I don’t really want to dive into politics here, but I’ll say this: you hardly ever see Stewart and Co. comment on the insanity on MSNBC. They made one comment about maddow that they later essentially apologized for, and one comment on Olberman, compared to the all out attack they’ve waged on Fox. Now, I guess how you view that depends on where you sit politically, but I’d hardly call that barely being left leaning. And, honestly just go down the Guest list. Again, don’t want to start a fight, or anything, and how people view this probably depends on which side of the aisle they sit on.

Jon-Fox kind of deserves the criticism. They are blatant propagandists and a mouthpiece for a major political party. Olbermann and Maddow are far more critical of Democrats than Fox is of the GOP (who only get attacked for not being conservative enough and even that is highly selective). Also, Olberman and Maddow, while obviously leftist, are factual. I mean if you feel they aren’t let us know what they’ve said that isn’t true. Whereas Fox, which I do watch for laughs, is chock full of the silliest and most simplistic views and ‘reporting’. Even their non-editorial segments have more subtle jabs at liberals as if that constitutes reporting. If they want to expose something, go for it! I am saying that Olberman and Maddow don’t generally lie (that I’ve seen), while Fox does lie and thus they aren’t the same.

As for the election, I got the feeling they were rooting for the winner as opposed to favoring Obama, which some probably did given the nuttiness that is Palin who was going to be a heartbeat from the Presidency. Doesn’t change the coverage. They covered Obama’s ties to ‘radicals’ ad nauseum so I would hardly call that coverage biased in his favor. He won despite the coverage and not because of it.

ShauN: I’m not inherently opposed to income tax, just as I’m not inherently opposed to taxation in general. I may be wrong (and I probably am), but I do think that the way taxes are used are so far from what they should be used for that we should try to figure something better out. If that includes a graduated income tax, so be it. But right now, that’s not really what we have.

Drizzt: Sorry I’m a lousy writer and political analyst. I can’t please everyone, I guess. As for ripping off David Brooks – considering I published this a week ago and wrote that part earlier than that, maybe he’s ripping me off!

Johnny- Not going into the politics of it, I’ll just say let’s agree to disagree and leave it at that :)

Interesting piece, really. I would like to argue that, from the Big White North point of view, the people of the USA are pretty conservative. More than a lot of other Western World countries.For Non-Americans, both Republicans and Democrats seems WAY to the right side of things. What is quite interesting is when people from other nationalities get to write american comics. Mostly big bad Brits. Heh. From a purely artistic point of view, it just makes greater comics, greater stories. Not because they are better than american writers, but because new ideas creates new dynamics and just open up doors for new kind of stories.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 7, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Bush “started” two wars “because that’s what conservatives do”?

Seems to be.

The left got scared of starting wars after Vietnam, so now it’s the province of the Right.

Nothing covers up selling off public infrastructure, or mass privatization, like a war.

ShauN: I’m not inherently opposed to income tax, just as I’m not inherently opposed to taxation in general. I may be wrong (and I probably am), but I do think that the way taxes are used are so far from what they should be used for that we should try to figure something better out. If that includes a graduated income tax, so be it. But right now, that’s not really what we have.

This is where is one of the areas in which I tend to differ with people that reflexively believe liberals are for “more government control”. To me, it really boils down to the question: what do you intend to cut?

http://govbudget.com/front/?p=spending

Don’t tell me “Social Security”. That program is paid for by a separate tax, runs a surplus every year and lends money to the rest of the government by purchasing T-Bills. Any real cuts in Social Security would require deeper cuts elsewhere.

Also, do not tell me something like “PBS” or “NPR” or “the arts”. Totally eliminating payments to those types of things would save the average tax payer less than $0.25 a year (I did the math). It is simply not a serious argument. You need a program that is large enough that a 10% cut in its budget would yield a 1-2% savings in the total budget.

Unless you ant to default on the national debt and throw the global financial system into chaos, there are not that many options. To get real savings, you need to make deep spending cuts in either defense, or medicare, or both. There really three ways to do that: stop fighting foreign wars, take away the only health insurance many older folks can hope to get or do something to control the cost of medical care.

Olbermann and Maddow are far more critical of Democrats than Fox is of the GOP (who only get attacked for not being conservative enough and even that is highly selective).

And CNN and MSNBC only attack the Democrats for not being liberal enough! Who are you kidding here? When do they attack the Democrats for being too liberal?

[Alan Coil wrote:

Because reality is progressive. Nature continues to progress and change, as do all creatures in nature. It is only conservative humans who try to stay locked in the past.]

Change can be good as demonstrated by the end of slavery in America to the rise of democracy in post-Saddam Iraq:

Change can be bad as shown by Hitler’s regime in Germany to the new threat of Islamic jihad against the West.

LIberals too often think change always will lead to a Star Trek-style utopia. Having soberly studied history, conservatives won’t support change UNLESS the final results will improve not ruin society.

He who suggests Olbermann and Maddow deal in factual information is a fool. I remember Olbermann starting a program wherein for the first 15 minutes, he proceded to insult Carry Prejean (and really all women who participate in pageants of that nature) with no partcular tact or purpose. He was 100% talking shit. And then invited Michael Musto to lend a hand in the assault. I don’t have the resolve to expand on all the problems with this issue, or Maddow or Olbermann in general, but if they are you’re democratic or liberal standard-bearers, your ideology is clearly fucked, and your mind is not trained to understand the difference between fact and opinion, and bias or propaganda. I do not say this as an attack on democrats or liberalism, but specifically on Olbermann and Maddow, whom I consider among the most irresponsible or journalists in news media.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 7, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Having soberly studied history, conservatives won’t support change UNLESS the final results will improve not ruin society.

Oh, piss off.

Conservatives won’t support change unless it fits their ideology, just like the left.

It’s just a matter of figuring out whose got it correct.

[Tony Isabella wrote:

Not that anyone asked, but...

Jefferson "Black Lightning" Pierce is a Northern Liberal Baptist. He's conservative and deeply religious in his personal life, but doesn't expect his religious beliefs to be the law of the land.]

In short, Black Lightning is like thos 19th century White American Christians who personally hated slavery, but don’t do anything to STOP it.

Aren’t you glad that REAL Christians like the Quakers and President Lincoln had the guts to fight to abolish slavery rather than be politically correct?

[Among current/recent issues...

He is FOR equal rights for gays in marriage and the military and everything else.]

Many Black Americans, including DEMOCRATS, don’t share this view.

*Part of it is religious as shown by this poll of Black Americans:

http://online.worldmag.com/2009/01/30/pew-forum-surveys-african-american-religion/

*Part of it is history. White homosexual men unlike Black people have ALWAYS had their constitutional rights (voting, free speech, property owners, etc.).

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/18/a-marriage-mandate/

So, many Black people are baffled why White homosexuals, who have lots of money and political influence, complain about being oppressed.

*Part of it is scientific. Many Black people don’t buy the “homosexuality = race” argument, whose scientific evidence is pretty weak. Delegate Emmett Burns (Democrat – MD) said it best:

“I cannot hide my color. Gays and lesbians can hide their relationships.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/Lawmakers-battle-over-gay-marriage-86609752.html#ixzz0hLyHHNcS

I’ll ad that I’ve met a former homosexual. I’ve yet to meet a former Black guy.

*Part of it is resentment over homosexual hypocrisy. White homosexual activists have a habit of trampling on Black people’s rights when they don’t get their way. Whether its attacking Black people in the wake of Prop. 8 passing:

http://holycoast.blogspot.com/2008/11/n.html

Or denying a mostly Black city (Washington, DC) its constitutional right to vote on marriage’s definition like any other issue:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/Human-rights-and-democracy-82165267.html#ixzz0dmQkMkCl

Is it me or due White homosexual activists seem more KKK than MLK as they claim?

So, pro-homosexual Black people Black Lightning are a small club in the Black community and understandably so given the reasons above.

[Anonymous wrote
March 1, 2010 at 6:52 pm

@ Tony Isabella:
You will ignore this, but since you wrote, i'll respond.

Based on your comments about Black Lightning, he is not convervative, he is a liberal.]

Moreover, BL is part of the Religious Left which supports things that God’s Word clearly state as sin like homosexuality, infanticide, and stealing (i.e., socialism). This branch of Christians also tend to view Big Government as the solution to all problems. (In fact, a government’s role is to punish those who attack its citizens: serial killers, rapists, muggers, terrorists, etc.)

Incidentally, actor Joseph Phillips (The Cosby Show) wrote a great piece about the Religious Left:

http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/jphillips/2010/03/01/saving-the-soul-of-the-religious-left/

Just pointing out that T and the other right wingers here don’t actually try to argue with those who supply facts…

And conservatives ruining history? Give me a f’ing break.

Linerals protested against W. because of WHAT HE DID. Suspend habeas corpus and run roughshod over the constitution and more!

So called conservatives keep stoking fear over what Obama MIGHT do. he might bring socialism! We might see horrible shifts to the left!

Give me a break! What W. actually DID far outweighs what Obama might do. Your outrage is false and manufactured. please spare the rest of us your mock patriotism.

Mike, let me ask you a question, and I’m not trying to be a smart aleck or be defensive when I say this, but I’m curious to find out what your answer is. What would happen if you had to skirt a gray area (which is what I think W did, but I’m not going to argue the point) by suspending habeas corpus (which has been done before, so it’s not without precedent, but that’s really neither here nor there) and other actions, but you thought you could save American lives by doing so? Would you do it? Would the possibility of saving at least one American life outweigh a moral stance?

If it wasn’t a fake question i’d answer it, Jon. Your underlying premise is faulty. Granting habeas corpus makes us moral, not the prisoners we grant it to. Suspending habeas corpus says more about us than it does them. it’s a fine legal point and is not granted nor withdrawn in the heat of questioning or battle, but in courtrooms during arguments. So it’s not a “save lives” situation. Ever.

I’m a big fan of Thomas Jefferson. coming in on the heels of the Alien and Sedition acts, he cauteioned that if we ever think the USA does need to go against our ideals for security – and he specifically mentions suspending habeas corpus – we need to reinstall those things as fast as possible FOR OUR OWN GOOD.

Here’s the thing. As a Social Democrat, I know not everybody agrees with me. I come to the table expecting to assert my views, but also expecting to compromise. Read the Federalist Paper #10, it’s what Madison says this country was founded on. the Right now just expects their views to dominate. No compromise, no willingness to meet anyone halfway. THAT is Un-American!

Worst of all, Frank Luntz’s Republican talking points score political points but they do so at the expense of the fabric of this country. They resonate with right wing voters – because they are designed to provoke an emotional response. And the constitution or the country be damned, the most important thing is scoring those political points. Stop. I beg my friends on the Right. Wake up. Stop listening to Luntz’s talking points. Realize what you are doing, destroying this country to score political points. Luntz is a brilliant but completely immoral man. Please wake up…

Mike-I don’t see how it’s a fake question if that detention leads to information that saves lives, but okay. I disagree with you, but I respect your opinion. :)

Jon, you don’t respect my opinion, though it is nice of you to say that. Again, the very idea that suspending habeas corpus is an option is un-American and unconstitutional. The Constitution is not there only for when it’s convenient. Again quoting Jefferson, he stressed in his first inaugural that the truths we hold to be self-evident apply to all people, regardless of their state of origin. All men are created equal Jon, not just those who agree with us. The decision to revoke habeas corpus was not made to save lives, but for convenience. The shame.

Well, I’m sorry we disagree, anyway. :) Either way, though, I don’t necessarily think it affects the comics. I think, honestly, having somebody in office like Luthor makes sense, since you’ve got people who can wipe out the planet with a thought, and the person with the most experience fighting that kind of threat would be someone like Luthor.

That’s really the thing, isn’t it, Jon? My polemics aside, I don’t disagree with you over comic book politics. Baselines are so very different – applying our reality’s politics to comic books doesn’t really make sense. In a superhero universe, the rules are all different.

And I completely agree. When you’ve got people who can level mountains as easily as they can blink, are you really just going to take them at their word that they aren’t going to turn evil? And when you’ve got people like Will Magnus and Ray Palmer, some of this stuff wouldn’t seem to be an issue.

Axon, what does that have to do with facts? Olbermann was talking shit about Prejean?! So? He’s an editorialist. She brought it on herself when she went out and began advocating her intolerance of gays and, frankly, we don’t need another dimbulb like Sarah Palin getting the spotlight without some much deserved ridicule. Exactly what does this have to do with ‘facts’? You do realize that one can also give a harsh opinion about someone and then still be factual? Tell us, what did he say about her that was wrong? Poor taste, sure, but factually wrong? Nope.

Olbermann serves a purpose at the moment. With the rightwing’s success in hate media (that’s right, I’m calling it hate media) a counterbalance is needed on the left, but with facts in the form of editorials that are confrontational because it seems that is what a segment of the American population wants. Maddow is better in this regard and her only offense is she makes ‘conservatives’ look like the liars and fools they generally are. She’s generally not anywhere near as harsh as Olbermann so lumping the two together is inaccurate. Conservatives don’t ever address what these two say by the way. They just don’t like them and you’ve got Bush Sr. attempting to be even-handed by calling them sick puppies like those on the right, but, of course, he’s not going to name the folks on the right. Conservatives have an ideology that is so regressive, they are one step away from recreating a Dickensian nightmare what with their lack of any real healthcare plan (while opposing Obama’s every move) and feigned anguish regarding spending, which didn’t bother them when Bush was in office, and the bailout, which they voted for under Bush is pretty clear evidence of their hypocrisy.

With that said, I would prefer it if neither Fox and the editorial stuff on MSNBC existed. It has lowered the journalistic bar with the prevalence of editorials, but seriously who on the right is really a journalist these days anyway? I mean we have those two clowns (O’Keefe and Giles) who ‘got’ ACORN, while refusing to release the original unedited footage of what they shot (and which is why a judge found no wrongdoing on the part of ACORN) and then there’s Drudge, who combines the worst aspects of tabloid journalism with rightwing hate speech. Conservatives seem uninterested in corporate malfeasance and political corruption is only an issue when it’s a liberal in trouble. The only real investigative journalists are on the left with the Nation doing some of the best work out there (Jeremy Scahill in particular with regards to Blackwater and other military contractors) and Seymour Hersh and others at the New Yorker. The NY Times is in and out as is the Washington Post, but on the right, a wasteland. It appears that the rightwing in this country has developed a preference for editorials over actual news. The MSM has played along in this charade and tried to respond to allegations that they are liberal by doing the wrong thing, giving equal credence to anything conservatives say as opposed to maintaining an adversarial position towards all politicians and those in power, which is their real job. This is what is really going on and the two wings are not on equal footing simply due to ideological differences. That is too easy of an answer. One is more factually correct and the other believes in an America that is a shining city on the hill or some such thing and wants Leave it To Beaver to return as something real (or Pleasantville for that matter). This is the ideological wing whose best attacks on Obama include: he’s a secret socialist/Muslim, he was not born in the US and he’s secretly a terrorist sympathizer etc. etc. They can’t really criticize him based on what he has really done wrong, such as the bailout, since their boys came up with the idea in the first place. This is what we’re talking about when with regards to American politics as our foreign contributors have noted, conservatives in America have gone off so far to the right that they think McCain (anti-abortion and pro-every war imaginable) is a moderate because he has favored campaign finance reform.

T-What’s too liberal? Believing that everyone deserves to live a decent life without worrying about going bankrupt due to healthcare bills or unfair lending practices by banks? Conservatives pretend to care about hard work and live in a fantasy world in which they too will become rich one day so that they lord it over the masses (or worse they believe in a bizarre Christianity in which the poor will not inherit the Earth, but venture capitalists are a-okay!).

Olbermann and Maddow are leftwing editorialists, BUT are more factually accurate than Fox’s talking heads. When questions about editorial tampering came up regarding O’Keefe’s so-called expose of ACORN, why Hannity just had nothing to say suddenly. If there’s going to be a Fox ‘News’, then I see no reason why there can’t be similar harsh counter-attacks from the left. How much do we need the ‘liberal’ media giving Sarah Palin an outlet before someone gets up and calls them what they are, liars.

Let’s hear it T. What brilliant healthcare counter-proposal does the right have? Tort reform, lol. Or ‘allowing’ regional healthcare insurers to compete across regions. Yeah, that’ll work. What a joke of an ideology they now have. Deficits don’t matter until a Democrat is in office. War=peace. Name initiatives that do the opposite of what they claim such as Clear Skies Initiative. Pretend global warming is not happening (this one’s the funniest). I mean really? What’s the evidence it’s not happening? Not feeling that warm lately? Anecdotal evidence as opposed to global studies and the preponderance of science. This is typical of the conservative movement. Then throw in religious and nationalistic chauvinism and this is what the Grand Old Party has become.

The progressive movement may not always be rational (some of the animal rights groups are pretty far out there and not exactly based in reality), BUT the GOP/Teabaggers have gone positively nuts and are on the wrong side of just about every issue.

I don’t agree with everyting you wrote (and you already addressed the ACORN issue), but I agree with the basic tenet that both sides are conservative in that they are trying to maintain the status quo.

Like most people my beliefs fall along the political spectrumn depending upon the subject, however, I am primarily to the Left and a registered Green.

I agree that Comic book heroes by their very nature tend to be conservative because (1) as a rule they do not evolve and any changes over time are reset either figuratively or literally to maintain the attractiveness of the property, and (2) becaue no matter what the rhetoric is they come down to a might makes right mentality.

I also find the idea that the MSM is liberal to be ludicrous. It’s primary focus has been to maintain the status quo.

I see the validity in some of the assumptions made in this article and of course being a conservative don’t agree with all assumptions made. I believe the whole issue is a lot more simple and can be explained in a far less complicated way. Comics are created in Manhattan, New York City. There is a culture that exist their that is not simply liberal but generally ultra liberal in their view point. As I have said to other folks when talking about the northeast in general. A liberal supporter of Hubert Humphrey for president against Richard Nixon could not believe how overwhelming Nixons presidential win was. She made the statement that she was completely devestated and confused by Humphreys defeat because she did’nt know a single conservative. She lived in Manhattan. Thats the culture. Thats the heart of American media and advertising and this fact can’t help but come out on occasion in the work that these admitted left leaning Manhattanites produce. I’ve learned to live with it because until comics are made in another area of influence. It is what it is. If someone is so upset by the work produce than stand up and start producing comics out of say Dallas/Fort Worth and you would see occasionally statement made by hero’s that held a more center/right position. Until then folks our comics creators overall produce a pretty good product that I have enjoyed for over 35 years. Do I get kind of pissed by occasional statements? Yeah. But I always have the choice of saying to hell with it go sell your product to someone else.

Smartest Man Alive

March 8, 2010 at 8:01 am

I have a degree in Political Science: when it comes to politics and entertainment: my advice to everyone is chillax, you will not enjoy life if you become a miserable dork .

Here’s my bias upfront: I’m just going to call myself a conservative for the sake of simplifying my political positions. I’m currently with the Republicans on what they’re doing right now on the major issues of the day (at least everything that doesn’t involve Sarah Palin, lol).

Yes, often we conservatives must live in a world in which the liberal ideology is dominant in our everyday lives, and the main media outlets and entertainers are always trying to secretly brainwash us (seriously it does feel like that sometimes). But so what? You make us right wing leanin folk look crazy when you trash AWESOME comics like Captain America by Ed Brubaker whos the frickin man by the way! Just turn off your stupid brain once in a while and let yourself be entertained! Like all these people that hate Family Guy cuz they’re liberally bias often. How can you hate such an awesome show. AVATAR is a great example! Who the F* didn’t love Avatar? You know who didn’t? There were a few conservative commentators who called it anti-American, and pro-environment, and anti-military, and all that. Dude, I have gotten a little tired of movies with global warming end-of-the-world crap, and Happy Feet, it’s really just stupid to me alot of times…. But AVATAR? You frickin IDIOTS! That’s why people think we’re crazy! Because you have to be crazy to hate on such great awesome stuff! Your like those frickin hippies that ban dodge ball in gym class, stop hating on cool shit!

Bill your assessment would have been true if this was still 1974.

Comic Book writers live around the country now. Both DC and Marvel have west coast offices. Maybe it’s time to make arguments that apply NOW, not 40 years ago.

Smartest Man Alive

March 8, 2010 at 9:01 am

Awesome it’s like a snow ball fight.

Mike, that was a rude thing to say to Bill. You made a good point, than you had to start talkin to Bill Smith like a butt hole.

Zor-El of Argo: “This thread was intersting at the start… great piece Greg!… but now it just looks like one of those cable news shows where everyone keeps making the same point louder and nastier”

Go back to Krypton commie-lover.

Somebody up there said “Superheroes, who try to act left leaning and political, would create a leftist dictatorship.”

I know man, but sometimes we have to choose between security and freedom and also between DC and Marvel.

Who has more people with big, weird beards? Liberals or conservatives?

I have to say, as a Brit looking in, American politics have a slightly surreal fascination to me… There seems to be so many things about it that when compared to British politics, if they weren’t actually real I’d assume it was satire.

There’s you odd duality where on the one hand you see people who are actually like and even more bizarrely are actually *enthusiastic* about politicians – not tolerate them as a unpleasant necessity, and on the flip side I seem to come across a fair number of people who seem practically paranoid that the government is out to get them or at least is potentially. To me, both are bizzarre – as they both have the core assumption that polititians are both effectual and competant.

There’s also the thing that americans don’t seem to realise that compared to most of the rest of the major world powers, America leans right. It’s also not that infrequent to come across semi-dormant McCarthyism, the fear that anything more liberal that ones own views is somehow communism or socialism (which seem to be weilded in a way reserved for ‘nazi’ or ‘fascist’ over here, without any actual comprehension of what those terms mean) which gets trotted out every time the left does something the far right doesn’t like.

Going back to comics though, from my political perspective, the Civil War metaphor is actually kind of hazy. A superhuman registration act is kind of dubious, as really there are two types of people in covers – on the one hand, if a man builds a suit of powered armour or specifically learns a spell to throw fire from his hands, that’s pretty reasonable to want to register it in the same way that knowing who has a rifle. On the other hand, if you are born with an ability (eg mutants or aliens) or are ‘stuck’ with an ability (like Thing) then it’s pretty dubious for the government to insist on the knowing all about you – it’d be equivelant to the government wanting a register of all of a certain ethnic group. If such an ability was harmful (in a country with a National Health service or equivelant at least), I’m pretty sure someone would be able to duplicate those power inhibitors that villains seem to have from time to time and make them available for free. It boils down to – wanting ‘weapon’ registration is a leftist issue, wanting human registration based on criteria is much more dubious and potentially far-right. Making people register those abilities but only if they intend to fight crime is a third issue altogether.

On Average though, I’d suggest that most Marvel heroes are effectively apolitical – *most* heroes are presented in a way that they always try to do what’s right, even if they go about it the wrong way, so their political preferences are really going to vary on writer unless specifically established. The fringe heroes might show it slightly more, as was mentioned earlier Cable and Deadpool pretty much presented Cable as being a incredibly powerful leftist who thought existing governments were ineffectual and/or self interested.
Infact, I’d suggest that most heroes who do show a leaning do so because they feel the system is ineffectual either way.

This feels like a half finished arguement, but I’ve now forgotten what I was going to say, so this’ll have to do for now…

As someone who leans to the right, I thought it was a great read. I was totally on Cap’s side in Civil War. He was the symbol of true conservatism in that storyline, and Tony was the symbol of Bush had turned it into. I think in reality, a majority of super heroes would be conservatives, as described above. So really Civil War wasn’t Left vs. Right, it was Right vs. Bastardization of the Right.

And for the record, I (as most conservatives) believe in a woman’s right to do what she want to with her body. But we also believe that the “fetus” has rights too. And I’m still trying to figure out why government controls who marries who in the first place, as marriage is really a contract between two people and whoever they worship. If a church, or mosque, or temple is cool with the couple, that’s all that should really matter.

Why is comicbookresources preaching politics all of a sudden? Really, it is getting tiresome. I do not come to this website for editorials on politics. Please, quit using the veil of the political leanings of the books to preach your agenda. I do not care about your self important, and in my opinion wildly obtuse, views. I want comic book related news. If this website cannot stick to comics I will have no choice but to get my news elsewhere. I may only be one insignificant click but I doubt I am the only one annoyed by this when posts like this look like they would alienate both sides of the political spectrum.

Schnitzy Pretzelpants

March 8, 2010 at 11:35 am

“One point I think you missed out on is that the (stereotypical, of course) conservative world view is black and white, while the liberal one is in shades of gray. Bush called out the axis of evil and started a couple wars, while Obama is open to talks with Iran and all. And superhero comics, at some point, are about punching the bad guy in the face, so the vast majority of them have to have a good guy and a bad guy pretty clearly defined, or else the punch to the face won’t be satisfying. And nobody wants to read 15 pages of Superman negotiating with Lex Luthor anyway.”

I’ll respond first by saying I am pretty Liberal. If I were in the States, I would consider myself an independent, but almost always vote Democrat. Pretty sure of that.

Having somewhat identified myself politically, I have to kind of disagree with you in your definitions here. I think BOTH liberals and conservatives – and quite a few at that – are guilty of black and white thinking, and ignoring shades of grey. Both are very capable of vilifying (i.e. – simplifying issues and people, into “good vs. bad”).

I think some of the best writers are more than capable of showing something that approximates – as much as you can in a world of radioactive spiders and men from far away planets – of showing that grey.

Miller – whom the writer of this piece sites as ‘batshit crazy’ (a summation I agree with these days) – in his heyday actually wrote some interesting stuff that was full of grey: Dark Knight Returns was filled with way more grey than people now give it credit for (and Miller himself seemed to have forgotten or shifted in his views when he penned the sequel). The Batman of Dark Knight, is show clearly to have created as many problems as he solved – loved the idea of a seemingly vegetative Joker springing back to ‘life’ at Batman’s reappearance.

Daredevil: Born Again, was pretty even handed too. I thought the whole Nuke/Captain America aspect was pretty HEAVILY handed, but evenly handed.

Watchmen, in many ways is the clearest of all. It doesn’t actually ANSWER the idea who is ethically correct. It shows the potential for ‘gods who walk among us’ to begin to believe their own omnipotence. It sets up a huge ethical question about ethics, and leaves us, the readers to ponder that.

In essence, and quite apart from your comments that I quoted, I do wonder if ultimately mainstream superhero comics tend to be more libertarian in their views, than conservative. Simply because, the idea of donning a costume and deciding by your own jury of one who is guilty or not, seems more in line with a more libertarian set of ideals.

I would say Black Lighting is a pluralist. Simply put, he believes government shouldn’t impose on religion and vice versa. So he can support the idea of same sex _civil_ marriage but also his church’s right not to perform them. He may be unconvinced of the argument for gay marriage, but thinks it’s inherently unfair that a tax-exempt body can lobby against organizations that aren’t. If one’s religion dominates the country, the possibility exists that another one could supplant it later on. I recommend reading CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity and this: http://www.musingson.com/ccCase.html

Gotta also say how much I miss Alan Grant’s Anarky as well. Here’s someone who came to the conclusion that both the state and religion caused more problems than they were worth, and that the ends didn’t justify the means. I think that all made him a bit on the ineffectual side (Anarky #7, the Day of Judgement crossover, was a comedy of errors) but also an interesting read. Here’s this kid out to end the system, but he says he’s a minor when offered alcohol.

Since I’ve been accused of being butt-holish, just wanted to go on record saying I agree with pretty much everything brent posted above.

[quote] So really Civil War wasn’t Left vs. Right, it was Right vs. Bastardization of the Right.[/quote] That’s kind of how I saw it, too – though for me it was more the Comic Book Version of the Right Vs. The Comic Book Version of the Bastardization of the right, but that’s semantics.

[quote]And for the record, I (as most conservatives) believe in a woman’s right to do what she want to with her body. But we also believe that the “fetus” has rights too.[/quote]

I think there’s a legitimate argument as to when those rights begin, which is part of the larger argument those on both extremes don’t want to have. I don’t know that brent would agree with me on that. Carl Sagan and his wife wrote a wonderful, cogent look at the question of fetal viability, of when life begins, in Parade Magazine of all places. This was years ago, just after Cosmos. I was adopted myself, which gives me a different sort of perspective. I’m tired of the yelling and wish there was greater, civil, debate.

[quote]And I’m still trying to figure out why government controls who marries who in the first place, as marriage is really a contract between two people and whoever they worship. If a church, or mosque, or temple is cool with the couple, that’s all that should really matter.[/quote]

IMHO, the government should issue civil unions, and legalities should be based upon those, not “marriages”. What brent wrote above mirrored my thoughts on the matter.

Liberals CAN agree with conservatives. And I DON’T always have to be so smug. Since you asked. :)

I find it interesting that as much as “gay rights” are considered liberal, seeking to serve in the military and get married seem more assimilationist- if not outright conservative.

[Johnny wrote

Pretend global warming is not happening (this one's the funniest). I mean really? What's the evidence it's not happening? Not feeling that warm lately? Anecdotal evidence as opposed to global studies and the preponderance of science. This is typical of the conservative movement. Then throw in religious and nationalistic chauvinism and this is what the Grand Old Party has become.]

Actually, before it became PC to do so, one of the earliest and most vocal critics of the theory of man-made global warming was atheist novelist Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park). He viewed global warming as one of the biggest hoaxes in history as shown by the following links:

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=316580&page=1

http://www.crichton-official.com/speech-sciencepolicy.html

In the wake of Climategate, the late Mr. Crichton has been proven right.

So, it’s silly to declare that only “backward” religious folk think man-made global warming is a snowjob.

One more thing: what’s wrong with being a Christian? It’s Christians like Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman who fought againt and eventually end slavery in America. It was also Christians like Martin Luther King who ended the legalized racism of Jim Crow. Christians founded the Salvation Army, which offers aid and comfort to survivors of disasters at home and abroad (e.g., Haiti).

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of Christians’ positive contributions to America and even the world.

When have atheists EVER led large scale movements against real injustice, poverty, etc instead of merely complain about these issues?

Just something to think about.

The problem here is that everything one side accuses the other of, is guilty of themselves, and bias seeminlgy blinds us to that. Politics is a contained eco-system that exists to continue its existence. Dignity and honor is not a virtue here. The best we can do as citizens is decide whose greed best suits the best interests of all. Superhero comics should be mostly politic-free.

And in response to a question posed to one of my earlier posts- insulting a woman’s intelligence and moral integrity because she has an opinion differing from your own has nothing to do with facts. Suggesting that Olbermann insinuating she is a whore because her upbringing puts her against gay marriage is neither factual nor relevant. It’s a personal attack, plain and simple, and has nothing to due with fact, class, or tact. And if you claim he is an editorialist, and can state his opinions, I absolutely agree. But to state these are rooted in facts is a stretch at best. Editorials by defintion are, at best, opinions bases on facts, or in Olbermann’s case, percieved facts based on emotional responses to people who rub him the wrong way. Claiming something is true because you can say it is doesn’t make it true, and that is generally the ideology that political pundits deal in. Also, as embarrassing as it is that I should have to point this out, tolerance is a two way street. Flagrantly insulting someone for not being tolerant is plainly ironic and hyppocratic, though this seems to be easily lost on the politically blind.

And I feel it necessary to point out that George Bush did not inspire every comic publisher to put him on the cover of comics. Odd for such a conservative industry then, that Barack Obama should be so prevalent among the same publishers covers.

Speaking of global warming, check out this scene from INVINCIBLE #68:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=preview&id=3833

Boy, Al Gore isn’t going to be happy with Robert Kirkman poking fun at his pet “scientific theory.”

Axon – true conservatives are Adam Smith-loving free market capitalists, right? Obama was on all those covers because his face SOLD ISSUES. No fair claiming the markets determine the winners and then complaining when the winner isn’t from YOUR side.

If that recent Blue Water bio on Reagan had sold as well, you’d have then seen a plethora of Reagan covers. Which I wouldn’t have liked or bought, but that’s the free marketplace. If that was the case, I’d probably be seeing a right-wing conspiracy, so i can understand where you’re coming from. Still, understanding it, it does seem a little contradictory.

Smartest Man Alive

March 8, 2010 at 1:46 pm

A wise man once said “Power corrupts. But with absolute power comes great responsibility”.

I don’t even remember who said that, it was either a great political philosopher or Uncle Ben. See people! This is what happens when you start mixing your politics with comic books! It F’s up your brain! It’s dangerous shit were messing with here!

Smartest, you mean Uncle Ben the rice guy? Cause, that’s some good rice.

The right is not tolerant. They won’t even compromise as the party of no is a valid appellation. I don’t even care about Olbermann, but do like Maddow the few times I’ve watched her show (her taking down of the one of the Tea Bagger financial backers was both factual and priceless). Indeed, tolerance is a two-way street, but how does one tolerate the attempts by one side to promote intolerance and ignorance and not call them out? This is the party that wants to ban abortion, do less than nothing about global warming (worse thing that happens if global warming is happening and we address it is we become less dependent on foreign energy sources and what happens if we take the GOP route, end of the world), thinks perpetual war is always the first and best answer (yeah let’s bomb Iran b/c that’ll bring peace to the Mideast), has no alternative plan for healthcare reform (and what they have does not count), thinks gays are 2nd class citizens (even if some conservatives here don’t, that’s the general view in the movement), are the party where religious fanatics (and birthers/racists) go to feel at home AND this is the party that thinks markets are the answer to everything and when things fall apart want more deregulation. Hell, goes without saying that I tolerate peoples’ rights to their opinions, but the conservative movement in this country is at its core not about tolerance. It’s about social darwinism and religious fanaticism and the worship of an ideology as opposed to looking for solutions that work regardless of where they come from.

Smart-There’s nothing wrong with discussing and even arguing politics so long as people don’t go into name-calling and/or violence. The only danger is a lack of awareness and participation in the political process. It’s why those so-called reporters (O’Keefe and friend) went after ACORN in the first place, they were getting too many poor people involved in the political process. Sorry, I don’t see any redeeming qualities in the conservative movement in this country. They aren’t even really fiscal conservatives as that’s all a sham (as we all have seen with Reagan and Bush when spending went through the roof) and individual rights are fine so long as they don’t conflict with the bible. And of course the Teabaggers up in arms over Capt America.

“Flagrantly insulting someone for not being tolerant is plainly ironic and hyppocratic [sic], though this seems to be easily lost on the politically blind.”

Umm, no. Condemning intolerant people is not in any way ironic. Being tolerant does not mean being tolerant of the intolerant when the intolerant express those opinions in a public forum.

Second, Olbermann’s rant may have crossed the line, but I question the intelligence and jusgment of anyone who takes Michele Malkin seriously.

Joe-Ah Michele Malkin, another dimbulb of the GOP whose babbling went unchallenged for years until Olbermann decided to fact check her nonsense on a regular basis. Add her to list of tolerant geniuses leading the GOP: Rush, O’Reilly, Hannity, Savage, Palin, Coulter et al. Indeed, this is quite the tolerant braintrust. Combine all of these ‘brilliant’ minds and you get about half of Obama’s IQ. Hey why not tolerate people who think gays are an abomination to their deity of choice, Muslims are all evil, non-Christian secular atheists are destroying America (yeah b/c that’s what I think about everyday, how to destroy this country that I happen to live in) and science is passe?

I think people tend to see more of the “opposite viewpoint” being thrown in their faces constantly and not notice the “propaganda” that’s more in agreement with their political leanings. In any debate that involves liberal and conservative sides to the argument, I tend to be attacked by liberals as a right-wing fascist and called a commie-pinko-lefty by conservatives. Since my positions tend to be attempts to use logic and questioning in discourse, I don’t land firmly in any camp, and when the nutballs circle the wagons, I get left out because god forbid I actually acknowledge points made by either side or refuse to stand by someone’s bad argument just because it supports my conclusion.

I don’t notice a whole lot of “in your face” political rhetoric in comics – it’s comes across as surprisingly balanced, possibly because creative writers get used to writing characters whose POVs differ greatly from the author’s POV. If I had to guess, I’d guess a little left-leaning, but I’m not surprised to hear opinions of the opposite. I’m not necessarily in agreement with all the points made, but they’re interesting.

I do recall one blatant political push in a comic that rubbed me the wrong way – it was a Slam Bradley short story by Darwyn Cooke (I believe – I could be wrong, naturally, but this is what I remember). Now, I love Darwyn Cooke’s work and what he did with the Slam Bradley character, but this story just made Slam look like a jerk and an idiot, and while I admit that could very well have been intentional on Cooke’s part, it gave me the feeling that Cooke was putting out his ill-thought-out (story wise, at least – for all I know the man’s genius about political issues).

I think it was in his Solo issue, and the story had some annoying loudmouth woman blabbing about her support of the war in Iraq. Slam walks up and shuts her down by saying something to the effect of “Well, unless you’re willing to grab a gun and go over there yourself, you should shut your stupid mouth,” and smugly sees that she can’t come up with a retort to such a “brilliant” point. Really, Slam? That’s a good argument? I see you don’t think we should support firemen, since I don’t see you volunteering at the fire department and putting out fires everywhere – I guess I should be careful about voicing my belief that firefighters are heroic public servants, lest Slam also tell me to “shut my stupid mouth” unless I’m willing to run into burning buildings…

There could be many explanations for this and I could be missing the point entirely (I’m rather sure I’m missing some important context there, but I haven’t seen anything that’s enlightened me about it yet), but that seems like a pretty obvious “liberal values being thrown in my face” example (with absolutely terrible logic behind it to boot!).

PS – THANK YOU for noting that in Civil War, Cap was more conservative and Iron Man was more on the liberal side (there are other possible interpretations, of course, but this is a valid one). When I was “defending” Iron Man on message boards (enough to get cyber-stalked over it, though I also defended Cap’s side because the whole point of Civil War was that both characters were “the good guys,” and anyone who thought one or the other was the villain or “entirely in the wrong” would almost assuredly have some serious reading comprehension problems. There were so many people who would just melt down at the assertion that these characters could actually be standing on the opposite sides of the political spectrum from what they thought.

Also, thanks for noticing that the two sides are incredibly similar to each other in modern times, especially when compared with pretty much every other time in history. The main reason we see so much antagonism is that the media is now at a point where it can and will bombard us with every little thing. It’s mostly just philosophical dithering and disagreements over the best ways to achieve almost the exact same goals – peace and freedom for everyone. I think this media-constructed idea that both sides are more different than they are is what causes so many people to balk at the idea that someone on the opposite-labeled side might actually be correct about something, or at the very least have good intentions at heard.

So these days I see a lot of sentiment that boils down to “everyone who agrees with me on any single point must agree with me on all others, and therefore we’re all liberal/conservative, and anyone who disagrees with me on that point is on the opposite side and therefore EVERYTHING they say is evil and incorrect. If I’m liberal and my conservative opponent thinks 1+1=2, then kindergarten-level math textbooks are wrong and evil and obviously published by conservative monsters.

I recall some lowlife posting my parents’ address on Rick Veitch’s comicon site with an invitation that people come rape and kill my family, and when I asked that it be taken down, I got a message that amounted to “You voted for George Bush (which I actually hadn’t, not that it should have mattered) so you deserve what you get.” Luckily, someone who isn’t a vile human being had the common decency to remove the offending post.

It’s really getting rowdy in here. Has anyone found a comic they read regularly to be unenjoyable based on a percieved political bias? It seems these arguements have turned away from comics, and quite frankly, if I want to be frustrated with political opinions, I have cable news at my disposal.

Also, condemnation is completely different from flagrantly insulting.

PPS: [quote] I think we’d all be better off if we got rid of income taxes, which is what the Tea Party wants, but I think we should raise taxes on other things to make up the difference. [/quote] I think I agree with this. Honestly earned income and necessities of life shouldn’t be taxed. Everything else should be fairly taxed. I think drugs should be legalized (slowly and carefully) and then taxed, which would seem to alleviate so many problems that it’s practically criminally evil to not at least consider this. In what wouldn’t even be the most optimistic scenario, this would produce more money than even the U.S. would have a hard time spending, and would likely solve problems in or even dramatically improve education, health care, law enforcement, and general quality of life (for anyone who doesn’t want to abandon their life for a drug addiction, but hey – the money brought in from taxes on those things would more than pay for taking care of those people).

[quote] I am against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,
[/quote]

I tentatively support those wars – I think there were many good reasons to go to war in these cases, but also many bad ones. They’re not clear-cut enough to blindly support, but it’s ridiculous to ask for all armed conflicts to be over something that’s easily broken down into good and evil. I can see many good reasons for opposing those wars, though, so I’m not a “true-believer” about either side of the issue. I do believe that the government and military thought it was necessary to best protect our country, regardless of how accurate those beliefs might turn out to be. I’m not stupid enough to froth about how “it’s all over getting the oil!” nor am I stupid enough to think 9/11 was some kind of permission slip to throw our military at everything.

[quote]
but I believe that the United States should learn from our history in places like Haiti or Cuba and fight “small wars” better, because we often need to use military force.
[/quote]
I very much agree – one of the biggest problems with those wars is that they’re being fought as police actions – the Iraq war was over in a matter of days. The “have U.S. soldiers stand around and get attacked by horribly evil people” police action is still going, and going rather poorly. If we actually allow ourselves to fight a war against anyone, there’s no stopping us, but once we just hang around and let ourselves be targets, everything goes wrong.

[quote]
I think women should have the right to choose what to do with their fetus.
[/quote]

I think the “right” answer to the abortion debate rests on whether or not a fetus is a human life. Since there’s no surefire way to figure out the correct answer to that, I’d prefer to err on the side of caution and not risk murdering some innocent fetus, but at the same time the evidence points to legalized abortion causing far less harm to society, so if I have to cast a vote, I still side with the “pro-choice” status quo. But man, I’m horrified by the idea that someone can be so sure that they’re right on either side of the debate – one the biggest disappointments I have in humanity is the fact that this debate has a reason to exist. That people are irresponsible enough to have the issue come up, and then be willing to fight HARD on a side of the issue that simply has not been logically supported, is just disgusting. I really hope the answer is found soon and that it turns out I haven’t been voting for “murder.” At least I’ve tried my best to understand the issue, though, and tried to side with less measurable harm.

[quote] I think gay people should be able to get married because there’s no reason they shouldn’t,
[/quote]

I have always voted for gay marriage to be recognized (there probably ARE reasons they shouldn’t, but most are religious and that should kept on the religious side – religions shouldn’t be forced to recognize it, I just have no problem with recognizing it myself. It seems like it can make a lot of people very happy, and I can’t see how it hurts anyone.

[quote] and people who say it’s a threat to traditional marriage should probably check the history of marriage.
[/quote]

Agreed. However, I also don’t think it’s a civil rights issue – it’s a community standards issue. Which is why I vote in favor of gay marriage rather than pushing to see some gay marriage legalization come out of a legal judgment about human rights. I am for it, and I think most people should be for it or have a darn good reason why not, but I think it’s up to the community to decide what they do and do not recognize as “marriage.” The fact that I find it silly or downright mean not to doesn’t change the rationale behind my position.

[quote]
I think government should try to help the poor, but they should also try to get them off welfare as soon as possible. [/quote]

Agreed – our nation is founded upon the idea that the poor from everywhere else are welcome to come here and work. Other countries didn’t (many still don’t) think that some “classes” of people deserve the same chance to make a living as others, and that’s where the U.S. is supposed to be different. But that advantage will disappear once too many people move here just to take advantage of our welfare system.

So, what does that make me? I’m generally considered pretty moderate, with some obvious right or left leanings depending on the issue. I can practically guarantee that any one of those statements could be savagely and unfairly attacked by people of low character/intelligence and that I’d be called a neocon or socialist because of it – but that’s a flaw in the attacker’s mind/soul, not in mine.

Why is comicbookresources preaching politics all of a sudden? Really, it is getting tiresome. I do not come to this website for editorials on politics. Please, quit using the veil of the political leanings of the books to preach your agenda. I do not care about your self important, and in my opinion wildly obtuse, views. I want comic book related news. If this website cannot stick to comics I will have no choice but to get my news elsewhere. I may only be one insignificant click but I doubt I am the only one annoyed by this when posts like this look like they would alienate both sides of the political spectrum.

I, for one, apologize for that jerk Burgas holding you down and forcing you to read his piece about comic books and politics.

I assure you that in the future I will make sure that you will be able to choose which posts that you click on and not be forced to click and read posts about politics.

Brian, I have been wondering as to why so many ppl have come to this column, after reading the title of said column, and then been aghast that it is about politics! I, for one, am shocked as the title was pretty misleading!

Axon-Olbermann crossed the line and does so on occasion. Really, Keith should do better than to sink to the level of conservative commentators who regularly say much worse (or hell, those idiots in DC representing the GOP, especially that Nazi Michelle Bachman and yeah I feel that term fits her pretty well given her McCarthy-like mentality to get ‘commies’), minus any real information. With that said, I condemn Prejean and really don’t care if she feels insulted. She’s entitled to her airheaded opinion, such as it is, but let’s face it, she brought it on with her babbling. Same with Palin. These fools don’t deserve any coverage from the ‘liberal media’ and yet here they are, constantly getting airtime. I kind of like it when someone calls them out on their lies, prejudices and misinformation. You betcha!

Well, now, you right wingers are gonna LOVE this one!

http://minnesotaindependent.com/56091/franken-comic-book-cover-revealed

Ahahahahahahaha!

While there are a few points I may disagree with, over all this was a very enjoyable and well thought out article.

thomasnarcejac

March 8, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Axon Rey wrote:
“It’s really getting rowdy in here. Has anyone found a comic they read regularly to be unenjoyable based on a percieved political bias?”

Captain America. Brubaker’s political agenda has completely ruined that book.

I stopped picking up most of Mark Millar’s stuff because he completely misunderstood and misused Captain America but wouldn’t stop using him. Add to that the Wolverine issue he did…I was done.

Jon-Millar reinterpreted him and let’s face it, Cap has been evolving since he was first written anyway. In the Marvel Universe he’s generally able to easily adapt in a future America, while Millar interestingly decided to look at it from a different perspective. A man from the 1940s wakes up in the future, I mean who wouldn’t be a little unable to deal and perhaps ‘old-fashioned’?

The first two trades of the Ultimates I picked up were great. The more recent stuff with the Red Skull being Cap’s son is not interesting. Thor as a hippie, hilarious. Hulk as a cannibal, equally hilarious. I kind of thought Millar was having some fun with these characters that often end up unchanged. Brubaker also has been doing a great job with interpretation of Cap and has made it almost as cool to read as Daredevil.

I understand your point and totally disagree with the Axon Rey comment which is typical of the head up the rectum/ comics are for escapism mentality which pops up in the world of comics from time to time.I say take a hike from CBR and comics in general Axon Rey.Your input will not be missed.No one cares what you have to say.As far as the central thesis goes, are comics conservative or liberal , I think misses the point. Comics are increasingly a reflection of contemporary culture whether we want them to be or not.Sometimes this is done well and sometimes not. Liberalism attempts even at its worst to look at the Underdog and how the issues of disenfranchisement affects us all.Conservatism only embraces the Alphadog and doesn’t care what the consequences of it’s climb to supremacy does to others.Those considerations are irrelevant to the conservative.The corruption of religion and capitalism to gain that supremacy and the tactic of polarization and obstuction is a trend that has little to do with true conservative thought. It is in fact the tactic of the fascist.The fascist needs to destroy all previous consensus between people in a society in order to take control which is the trend we are seeing now.The failure of Liberals is to effectively expose and combat those trends.Where is the Liberals version of the Tea Party demonstrations from coast to coast.Why is Obama’s fiscal policy to bail out the GM’s and AIG’s not more strongly challenged?Why are we still being bled dry by two wars that we simply can’t afford financially regardless of the right or wrongness of them?If comics occasionally touch on issues of the day and provoke thought then so be it.What would Will Rogers and Walt Kelly think of all of this?

And your entitled to your opinion, but Millar shows a complete lack of understanding for the characters in opinion, has done so routinely, and has all but tried to force him into the Angry American role. Ultimates originally was inventive but after a while, he kept beating the same drum over and over and over and over…add to that what he did for him in Civil War, and I felt like everything from Kirby to Stern to Waid was essentially burned for no reason whatsoever.

Last post is adressed to Johnny and should say you’re.

Yes, but Jon, Ultimates Universe is a free for all. Cap is still the same in the mainstream verse for example. JM DeMattis also did a pretty good interpretation of him in the mainstream, but he’s rarely been that interesting of a character. I mean it is a subjective thing, but shaking things up works for me.

He’s a little bit of an angry American, but it’s more like he’s puzzled and sometimes gets angry. He’s depicted as quick to adapt though and cunning and he has more physical power, but still relies on more Batman-like qualities to outwit his opponents. I gotta say, I don’t think I’ve ever deconstructed a comicbook character like this. Usually something that gets done when you’re writing a paper for some class you have no idea you are in.

Alton-I agree that the bailout of AIG was mishandled, but not GM. I think buying them and restructuring them is both in terms of saving jobs AND will save a perfectly salvageable company that is American-based. Japan and Germany both gave billions to their indigenous automakers. Ford, for example, has handled itself better and has grabbed more market share. They didn’t take a handout and thus are still out there. Good for them.

I also must agree about the wars bleeding us dry. Progressives have been far more vocal than mainstream liberals in the Democratic party who have been largely muted, in part to appease a segment of the population that simply wants revenge for 9/11 (what else to say about the Iraq War?), while Afghanistan was poorly handled by the Bush admin. that dropped the ball there and went to Iraq and it turns out we messed up. Iraq will likely recover, but Afghanistan may further disintegrate. A good policy there would have been to simply buy off the insurgents, which would cost us a fraction of what we’re spending with the current Obama surge, which I didn’t agree with, but the GOP was asking for until he gave it to them. Only a handful of politicians I like and they are generally of the Dennis Kucinich variety, although I do agree 100% with Ron Paul’s foreign policy perspective on the GOP side.

Smartest Man Alive

March 9, 2010 at 6:34 am

I’m just bored at work again, I was pondering this when I got off my exit this morning:

What do you think really would have happened after the Rebels defeated the Empire in Star Wars? Do you really think it would have been a happy ending? I don’t. I think there would have been a giant power vacuum. Han Solo and Luke would have had a bloody struggle for power, killing any and all in their way including each other. There would be some rioting and looting in the major cities, and the clones would have gone underground and became insurgents. Personally, I think Han Solo would have won out, and became dictator of the galaxy, but than again Luke is a Jedi.

Doubt me? Ask yourself this: What do Luke, Hamlet, the pharoahs, and all the power crazy monarchs in history have in common? That’s right, they french kissed their sisters, and they believed they had Godly super Force powers.

Smartest Man Alive

March 9, 2010 at 6:35 am

Actually Hamlet “french kissed” his mother, but you get the point.

One just can’t talk politics without partisan argument. Any statement about political leanings invites comment from all sides than degenerates into sloganeering. It doesn’t matter whether it is between the left and right wings of American politics or the left and right wings of the ‘left wing.’

Politics is, to most Americans, something very close to a religion. Their beliefs (left, right, or middle) are hammered out in stone tablets handed down from heaven and scrutiny of same is blasphemy. The number of people who analyze, challenge, and reassess their political ideas is very small and such people are generally accused of being ‘wishy-washy’ by everyone else. Changing one’s mind because of perceived error or changing conditions is a greater sin than actually being stubbornly and stupidly wrong.

American politics breaks down to competing elitist movements: moral elitists of various stripes, intellectual elitists of various stripes, social elitists of various stripes, and economic elitists. The insidious thing about all of this is that all sides will tell you they are fighting elitism and standing up for their own rights and beliefs when they are really attempting to enact their own beliefs into law. Liberals are for ‘civil liberties’ but support the nanny state. Conservatives are for ‘individual freedoms’ but advocate legislation based on parochial values. Moderates claim to oppose ‘extremism’ but appear to believe that one can split the difference between differing theories of government intervention into the personal sphere and somehow come up with something better than either. Nearly everyone (with the exception of a very small number of liberals) is for what used to be called ‘law and order’ and is now called ‘national security’… which, regardless of the label, is an extension of the government’s powers to violate individual rights.

The big problem is that American politics, on both sides and in the middle, is intellectually and morally bankrupt. The ‘Tea Party movement’, despite all the hype the right wing spin machine has given it, is ultimately a collection of diverse people who are very angry and afraid and don’t completely grasp why they are angry and afraid or whom deserves the brunt of that anger. There are populist and conservative underpinnings to that anger because human nature is populist and conservative. This is why the right wing professional political establishment has been so successful at exploiting the ‘movement’ and why the left wing professional political establishment has been equally successful, in many quarters, has been so successful at demonizing it or belittling it.

Neither strategy addresses the real problems which have created all that fear and anger. The exploitation of the Tea Party ‘movement’ by socio-economic elitists and its demonization by socio-intellectual elitists are equally destructive to the real interests of the American people, inside or outside of the ‘movement.’ Entrenched political interests have more to gain from exploiting problems and divisions than solving or reconciling them.

For Jon and Johnny:

I’m a big fan of Kirby, Englehart, and Waid and the latter two wrote the best Cap /stories/.

I thought the best Cap characterization, and the best use of politics without advocating a particular political position, was during the long Mark Gruenwald run. Gruenwald used political satire brilliantly, without forgetting that he was telling an adventure story rather than writing a sitcom. Environmentalists, the UN, neoconservatives, liberals, militia movements, civil rights groups, hate groups, and more. No one escaped and everyone was raked impartially over the coals.

I found Millar’s take on Cap interesting, but empty. I thought it was more grimly ‘realistic’ than Lee and Kirby’s take on Cap’s integration into the post-WWII world. At the same time, Lee and Kirby weren’t striving for ‘realism’ in the same sense Millar was. Kirby was seeking to make a point about the ‘innocence’ of WWII era America vs Cold War America and to make a moral statement about the values he perceived to be best in America. Englehart was making a point about how America frequently fails to live up to those values.

In my view, someone has to have something to say to write Captain America properly (whether in his own book or a team book) and Millar just didn’t have anything to say. Cap doesn’t lend himself to Millar’s school of deconstructionist writing.

Personally, what turned me off Ultimates (and all the Ultimate Universe books) was the starkly deconstructionist take on the whole thing across the board. One can only go so far down that road before one is left with nothing at all.

I didn’t have a serious beef with Captain America’s portrayal in Civil War. It was mostly spot on… /my/ big complaint was the characterization of Iron Man as some kind of cryptofascist.

Wow, Alton, that was pretty uncalled for, on top of the fact that I dont’ think you took my meaning as it was intended. I’m willing to take partial blame for that as it was most likely the fault of my articulation. That being said, no need to be a dick.

Ron English2010

March 10, 2010 at 12:31 pm

I didn’t find the comic offense, and i do lean towards conservative values. When i heard the news I didn’t know I had read that issue the month prior. I agreed with Cap during the Civil War, the government needs to back off. People are so sensative today it’s getting ridiculous. What is great though is that a comic book made national news. These are the kinds of things that bring new readers in, and I am all for that.

Axon Rey, thanks for your response.My original comment identified the wrong individual for the quote and was corrected.I understand your initial point, let”s talk comics not politics,but FOX chose to politicize this first. However wordy and clumsy my analysis of the general political scene is I still stand by it and am glad this column allowed some exchange. Whether it amounts to anything or not is highly unlikely.Polarization has set in and the New Civil War is brewing.Actually it will be more of a fizzle of whining and crying as the general populace strong on opinion and short on intelligence continue to max out those credit cards and bury themselves in what the author of Swimming With The Sharks claims is 61 trillion in personal debt.This was part of an interview on Democracy Now.This was an instance of a fiscal conservative being interviewed buy a progressive liberal.That will never happen on FOX/Murdock.How dare those clowns move into our sphere whether or not Brubaker is wrong or right in what he wrote?How dare Joe Q.cave into these pirates? You are right let’s get back to comics while we still have them before Murdock swallows up Marvel and DC in another round of controlling the information flow.

Excellent article, Greg! I agree with you very much, and I’d like to see you analyze the DC Comics’ character “Anarky” and that title’s cancellation in reference to the same concepts utilized in this article.

For instance, here’s your 9th paragraph, first sentence, from your article:

“But back to superhero comics. No superhero comic from Marvel or DC is liberal in the truest sense of the word, challenging the status quo.”

The very essence of Anarky as a character and as a title was indeed all about challenging the status quo in a way that no other mainstream comics character ever had, and I’ve often wondered if that might be the true reason for its cancellation (and it may even have had something to do with Alan Grant’s and my total sacking by DC).

Just a thought (I’m not a “believer”).

I would say the status quo exists in terms of being in the mainstream of when it was written. That goes for flashbacks and Elseworlds, and why the type of character Anarky represents tends to be a killer or would-be killer– the “bad guy” with a good point undermined by his or her methods. It’s much more subversive when that’s not the case, as wound up happening with Anarky.

Anarky was definitely NOT a killer. It was Anarky’s real-world philosophy alone that was and is unique to mainstream comics characters and is what is/was so anti status quo not only in DC universe terms, but in real world terms.

Norm: Thanks for the kind words. I think Anarky is a fairly interesting character in that regard, because the way he’s presented, it’s as a “bad guy,” but even Batman can’t help but be impressed by the way he thinks. I too wonder if he was a bit too radical to carry a comic. It’s been a while since I’ve read my Anarky comics, but it might be something worth writing about …

Pierre F. Lherisson

September 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm

The form and content of media used in any given society and epoch are geared to the conditioning of its citizens to accept the status quo as normal.

It’s my impression the free market is more permissive, especially in more fantastic or historic settings, although the franchise fare tends to enforce the status quo. In terms of the DCU, I do think they are a little off in presenting a society with non-humans (some friendly, some not) but gays still can’t serve openly in the army (Batwoman’s origin in Detective) and the ocean is an actual kingdom yet there’s offshore drilling going on up until the start of Brightest Day?

Conservatives typically want to:

1. Dramatically shrink the size and power of the federal government;
2. Eliminate abortion-on-demand;
3. Greatly reduce the size and scope of the welfare state;
4. Return Supreme Court jurisprudence to the plain language of the Constitution;
5. Overhaul the tax code so that half of Americans are no longer paying full freight for the half which do not;
6. Enforce our national borders;
7. Greatly diminish the power and political influence of labor unions;
8. Greatly diminish the power and political influence of lawyers;
9. Restore American values to our culture;
10. End the practice of federally-enforced atheism.

How are any of these things supporting the status quo in America?

The author of this piece resorts to the Liberal Ratchet—that phony device whereby liberals claim the exclusive right of determining America’s course.

It happens to be false on its face. Liberals today are desperately defending the status quo in all of the above and resist mightily all efforts to change in these areas.

The reason why “conservative” and “liberal” mean nothing any longer to the author is simple sloppy thinking on his part.

As a political junkie and a comic fiend, I liked this piece. There are a couple points I would make though:
-The gun analogy for the Civil War was a really good one, and one I hadn’t thought of (though the description of it as the nanny state winning out was spot on.) I think a better analogy is the individual mandate in ObamaCare. The idea that people can not be trusted to do what is right, and need to register with the Government (IRS or Bureau of Superhuman Affairs) lest society at large have to pay the consequences. Of course I understand that the individual mandate wasn’t really being discussed as of the writing of the article, but I still think it bears noting.
-I think that the biggest complaint for conservatives isn’t that they are mocked non-stop in comics, but that the mocking constitutes SUCH bad art. I will reference the comic that spawned the response that spawned this article. In Captain America we have a veteran, who drapes himself in the flag, who has spent almost his whole life in the military or law enforcement, and the icing on the cake is that he fought in World War II, he’s clearly from a different era. Anyone reading this should reflect on people they know who fought in WWII. Even the FDR Democrats, how many of them are on board with things like gay marriage? Not a whole lot. So basically, Captain America was originally written as a far-right jingoist (by today’s standards.) And he was frozen in ice for a couple decades, so he didn’t even have time to “evolve” politically during the 50′s. And now we have him serving as a de facto mouth-piece for the Democrat Party. And that’s the real problem. Consider Luke Cage (aka Power Man.) When we consider his biography, we would fully expect him to be a leftist. So no one complains when he spouts leftist propaganda. Same thing with DC’s Green Arrow. One can argue about how realistic it is that Oliver Queen would be a communist, but from the beginning he was portrayed that way, so again, no one complains when he spouts left-wing ideology. So in conclusion, I don’t think it is merely non-stop left-wing propaganda that has conservatives riled up. It is the forcing of uncharacteristic words in to the mouths of certain characters that rubs them (as it should every comic fan) the wrong way. Making Captain America parrot the modern Democrat party is no different from trying to paint Peter Parker as bullying jock-type in his high school days. It doesn’t fit, it feels forced, and it comes off lik the pod people from the invasion of the body snatchers.

”but I believe that the United States should learn from our history in places like Haiti or Cuba and fight “small wars” better, because we often need to use military force.”

The only thing the USA should have learnt from Cuba is that it shouldn’t try to depose a government that was the first to do any substantial good for its people (even if they had faults too) in that country. There is no way that Castro is worse than Pinochet, Suharto, the Emirs of the UAE, the Sauds, the Emir of Kuwait and all the other tyrants and dictators that the US has support and in some cases still supports.

And comics are irritatingly right-wing. ‘Ten Nights of The Beast’ was completely misinformed crap, which made the fact that it was badly written even worse. I think that the writer was a liberal, but US liberals are considered right-wing in most European countries and I am left of Lenin anyway!!!

By the way, the author paraphrases ”each according to his ability, to each according to his need” as a right-wing viewpoint. This idea was espoused and made famous by Karl Marx, the founder of Communism, and very-much left-wing. If Superman has this as his viewpoint, it should technically make him at least partially Marxist. The fact that liberals think that is right-wing shows that their understanding of politics is not quite up to scratch.

And the creators of Captain America were Liberals anyway. Captain America spouting Liberalism is true to his character. Superman’s creators were New Dealists too.

Just read this great article. My views are sorta in line with T. I do feel as if liberals control just about all media. But as was said, if that’s what you go looking for, you will find it. Ive written off TV, Movies, Comics and lots of books while i sort through this. I think its the sarcasm and contempt the mouth pieces on the left use that is so upsetting. And i don’t want to give them a dime of my money. But in the past few years ive found that the left /right paradigm is really being challenged. Obama voters are now more or less pro war, (blood for oil?) The conservatives we have in power now are really becoming democrat light. And you have a upcoming libertarian movement that takes from the extremes of both sides. Id like to get back to reading comics and enjoying them as i did when i was kid. Its not like they warped my mind, i am after all a hardcore middle right of the road libertarian even after all the propaganda i was fed in media and in public school. Im also not in my 20s anymore. Age tends to make you lean conservative. And when it doesn’t you end up a mess (im not sayin, im just saying):P . But yeah, thank you for this article. I may go to the comic shop on this beautiful summer day. Still, forget movies/TV, my life is better without them. Ill never go back.

Fantastic! Really well-written. A couple points here and there where I didn’t agree, but honest to God, it’s probably the most I’ve agreed with anything in a LONG time.

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