Truth, Justice, and the 99%

Or, Superman Occupies Wall Street

I was minding my own tweeting business, when I got a tweet stating that Superman had joined the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  I was a little surprised by this since at this point, I figured OWS as a movement was about as dead as a doornail.  It had been months since an Occupier has pooped on a police car, and there had been little Occupy terrorism in several months.  What benefit could DC have in involving their flagship character, the most popular comic superhero in the world, with a fringe group of crackpots?

But following the link on the tweet it led me to DC Comics character description of the Man of Steel:

A universal icon, Superman means different things to the many diverse people he inspires: He’s an alien; an immigrant from a faraway land just looking to help; a country boy fighting the never-ending battle for truth and justice. And recent comics have truly spotlighted his role as the people’s hero: Following a neophyte Man of Steel still learning his powers’ limits, Superman fights the evil corporate tycoons and corrupt one-percenters that have overwhelmed the establishment.

What the hell?  “one-percenters?”  “evil corporate tycoons?”

One couldn’t also notice that the “American Way” had been excised from the truth and justice Superman unendingly battles for.  Not so much a surprise as Superman renounced his American citizenship in Action Comics 900.  Of course DC had been wrecking both their characters and their universe since their Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC’s 1985 series that eliminated all of its comic alternate universes.  It made a great storyline, but a massive comicsverse such as the ones DC and Marvel have can’t exist without multiple alternate universes.  They clear up continuity problems. And they allow a rebooting updating of the characters such as Marvel did with its Ultimate line.

Without alternate universes, DC has been trying to reboot its prime universe over and over, updating it to the point that none of the history a true comic geek knows about his favorite characters stays history.  Characters origins and previous adventures get altered and changed on a whim.  DC eventually corrected that, resurrecting the multiple universes, but their most recent reboot gave DC the chance to totally redo all of their characters.  An opportunity they apparently took advantage of by making decades old superhero, Green Lantern, gay.  DC did wimp out on this since they took another universe Green Lantern, Earth 2’s Alan Scott, as the gay lantern.  Still, is there really a comic market for that?

I get that artists and other fartsy types are likely to be left leaning.  A little politics mixed in with comics has been going back years.  During the seventies Green Arrow and Green Lantern would simultaneously fight aliens and racism in their own joint comic book.  The series had several sophisticated story lines involving what were then topical issues of the day;  poverty, class, Vietnam, and drugs.  Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy had a heroin addiction.

But DC, why did you have to go and ruin Superman?

They’ve actually taken the most popular comic book character in the world and made him a lefty political extremist.  And DC wonders why sales of their comics continue to drop.

Since DC is determined to crush both their sales and the characters they had spent decades cultivating, they might as well let the characters go out with a bang before bankruptcy.  Why not reboot the DCU again (20th time’s the charm right?) and make Superman black. Superman, whose alter ego is a mild mannered reporter for Media Matters, can fight super villains like the Koch Brothers. As an illegal immigrant himself, Superman can kick down the border fence in Arizona, and fly back to Boston to smoke pot in the Commons with the other Occupiers by noon.

How can DC go wrong?

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Romney goes all in with Ryan

This was not the Vice Presidential pick I was expecting.  I was going along with the conventional wisdom on this one and assuming either Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty.  Usually, you almost always can count on going wrong when relying on the conventional wisdom, but Mitt Romney seems like a conventional wisdom kind of guy, so the safe guesses seemed likely to me.  So I was surprised when I heard on the news that Paul Ryan was Romney’s VP pick.

In general terms, Ryan is a good pick.  He’s bright; in fact, bright enough that the average IQ of the House of Representatives will drop a good deal when he leaves. He can also present his arguments clearly and concisely.  One of my favorite all time political video clips is the Obamacare Health Summit, in which Ryan demolished the fiscal rationale behind the Obamacare CBO report in a few minutes, with a scowling Obama looking on.

Ryan was right on Obamacare, but it still passed.

And that’s the problem with the Ryan pick.  The President’s campaign strategy for this year has been to avoid economic issues and engage in personal attacks and demagoguery.  That’s the purpose of the various “war on…” ads.  2010’s “Throw Granny off a Cliff,” featuring a Ryan look alike rolling a wheelchair bound grandmother type off the edge of a cliff, is a harbinger of the type of campaign we can expect from the Obama administration.  When Democrats portray Republicans, they are usually shown as either stupid or evil, depending on what they think fits better.  With Ryan, it’s clearly going to be evil.  Will we see ads portraying Ryan as a blade welding, hockey mask wearing killer, slicing and dicing the elderly in rest homes?  Don’t laugh; after throwing granny off a cliff, will Ryan stop at nothing?

Ryan doesn’t really bring the key battleground States, like Portman (Ohio) or Rubio (Florida) would.  Romney is going for an ideological and ideas pick.  With Ryan, he’s showing that the thrust of his administration is going to be to get our fiscal house in order.  That’s a great thing and a vital one, but it plays into the Obama administration’s yearlong campaign strategy.  The White House is probably popping the corks on the bottles of champagne.  If you’re running a campaign based on demagoguery, you couldn’t have hoped for better than a Ryan pick.

Just like on Obamacare, Ryan is right on our budgetary and fiscal issues, but as Obamacare shows, being right doesn’t mean you will win the votes.

Looking at the race in the beginning of the year, I figured it would be Obama winning in a squeaker.  Months later, with the Ryan pick, I still lean that way.  But at least the battle grounds are clearly drawn, and we know what the race is about: saving our country from fiscal chaos and trying to restore the nation, or stripping the treasury of every dollar and eating our seed corn; eat, drink, and be merry, because tomorrow we may be a third rate, ruined power.  I think if the American people are given that clear choice, they’ll make the right decision.  The problem is, the few undecided voters will be viewing the race through the lens of the big three network nightly news programs, and they are all three firmly on Team Obama.

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The Left Makes Up Their Own Romney Tax Plan

At one of the web forums I visit, some liberals had caught notice of this bit of news:

(CBS News) President Obama is seizing on a study out Wednesday to support his argument that Mitt Romney is focused on boosting the rich at the expense of the middle class.

The study from the Tax Policy Center looks at the impact of Romney’s tax plan, which he promises will be revenue neutral. Romney has vowed to cut tax rates by 20 percent across the board, repeal the estate tax and get rid of taxes in investment income for those making up $200,000. He says the reduction these tax cuts will have on tax revenue will be offset in part by eliminating deductions and loopholes, though he has refused to say what deductions and loopholes he would eliminate.

The Tax Policy Center – a joint project of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute – found that if Romney wants his plan to be revenue neutral, it will result in “large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers.”

They found that would be the case no matter how he ultimately structures the plan. In fact, the group operated on the assumption that Romney would first eliminate deductions and loopholes for the wealthiest Americans.

“Even when we assume that tax breaks – like the charitable deduction, mortgage interest deduction, and the exclusion for health insurance – are completely eliminated for higher-income households first, and only then reduced as necessary for other households to achieve overall revenue-neutrality- the net effect of the plan would be a tax cut for high-income households coupled with a tax increase for middle-income households,” it said.

I read as far as “…a joint project of the Brookings Institution…” when I realized the study being referred to here was a phony.  The Brookings Institution is of course a left-liberal think tank.  Officially, it’s “non-partisan” as is required for a 501(c)3 organization, but it is generally staffed by researchers who are left leaning and provides reports and analysis that supports Democratic Party initiatives.  That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t do legitimate research, but it’s helpful to know which direction the bias is coming from.

So rather than just accept the CBS news article, as I was meant to, I followed the link to the actual abstract of the Tax Policy Center’s analysis here.   One of the first things I noticed is that they are not even scoring Romney’s plan.  “We do not score Governor Romney’s plan directly, as certain components of his plan are not specified in sufficient detail, nor do we make assumptions regarding what those components might be.”  So rather than score Romney’s plan, they make up a plan similar to what they think the final legislation will be.  And of course, make assumptions as to its components. Now, that should have ended the matter right there, but apparently the non partisan researchers at the Tax Policy Center will be more than willing to fill in any of the blanks themselves.

Another error the author’s make, (and this one is even more egregious than making up their assumptions) is that they assume that Romney’s 20% tax cut is on top of the Bush/Obama tax cuts.  The author’s point to Mitt Romney’s website as the source of this information; however that condition is nowhere on Romney’s website.  In fact, Romney’s site emphasizes that his plan is a variation of the tax plan from the Simpson-Bowles deficit plan, lower marginal rates, with few deductions; exactly what Democrats say they want, until a plan is actually offered.

So given that the authors add two tax cuts on top of each other, it’s easy to see how they came up with a plan that they don’t regard as workable.

This was all information that I dug up in just a few minutes, however I’ve yet to hear this counter argument in the main stream media.  It’s an example of the media’s bias of course, but specifically, confirmation bias.  The press release for this report fit the media’s prejudices so there was no need to even look at the abstract.  It just sounded right.   On Morning Joe this morning they spent 10 minutes talking about the report without anyone, even alleged conservative Joe Scarborough, challenging its assumptions.

The win goes to Obama on this one, but only because the truth was successfully embargoed by the media.