Tagged: Sarah Palin

John Ostrander: Shooting Off Your Mouth

ostrander-art-131222-150x129-2692628This past week Phil Robertson, the patriarch on A&E’s Duck Dynasty (a show I will admit I’ve never watched) had an interview published in GQ (which I don’t read) in which he compared homosexuality to bestiality, among other things. And when he was growing up in the “pre-civil rights era,” he never saw an unhappy black person. Not one. “They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

All this got him into a spot of trouble. A&E suspended him indefinitely from the show. The Robertson family has said they won’t film more episodes without the pater familias. The show is the most successful “reality” show on television – or so I’m told; remember, I don’t watch it.

There’s pushback now from the show’s supporters and right-wingnuts like Sarah Palin. La Palin said “Free speech is an endangered species. Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.”

Predictably all the Fox And Friends folks, never ones to pass up the opportunity to be victims or martyrs, are also pretty darned upset. Jim Pinkerton on Happening Now (which definitely should not be confused with the old black sitcom What’s Happenin’) said we’re seeing “A Purge Of Southern White Christian Patriotic Culture Out Of TV.” Geraldo Rivera said it was political correctness gone malignant. On his radio show, Sean Hannity opined that Robertson was just expressing “old fashioned traditional Christian sentiment and values.” And there are various people saying Robertson was being censored for speaking his mind and whatever happened to “Free Speech” and aren’t liberals a bunch of hypocrites and so on.

Okay, as has been pointed out by others, this isn’t a censorship matter. Censorship involves the government prohibiting speech. This is a TV cable network, not the government. I don’t think it’s a “Free Speech” matter, either. Robertson spoke his mind and there was a consequence. The cable company acted to protect its own perceived interests. That’s their right.

Was it Hate Speech? No, I don’t think so. It was boneheaded. He had other thoughts including saying that up until the time of the Great Flood, everyone was a vegetarian. (The nuns back at St. Jerome’s Elementary School never mentioned that when I was growing up. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention; that’s possible.) It all comes from a very literal reading of the Bible and interpreting it within your own prejudices.

Did Robertson have a right to say what he did? Sure. Just as GLAAD and the NAACP had a right to respond. Just as Palin et al have a right to their responses. “Free Speech” doesn’t protect you from hearing things that you don’t like. I remember when the American Nazi party marched in Skokie, Illinois; it was allowed under Free Speech – as was a counter-demonstration by those who opposed them. Both came under protected speech.

This is mostly a tempest in a duck pond. All the episodes for the new season of Duck Dynasty have been filmed save one. What will happen is that A&E’s “indefinite suspension” will be that episode. If they’re smart, that episode will be the last episode and will cover the “furor,” it will be a “cliffhanger” and then Robertson will be back for the following season and that premiere will score even larger ratings for the show than usual. A&E will claim they made their point, The Fauxes et al will claim victory, Phil Robertson will have had his soapbox and all involved with the show will make a ton of money. That’s America.

To tell the truth, Robertson’s view on gays (or anything else) doesn’t really bother me. They’re not going to have much affect on anyone that doesn’t already agree with him. He’s preaching to the choir. Vladimir Putin’s views on homosexuality do bother me; he’s the head of state over in Russia and his views get made into policy and laws.

Just a little proportion on the matter.





What goes into making a memorable character for a story?

According to Lawrence Block, author of over one hundred novels and recipient of the Grand Master award from the Mystery Writers of America, they must be three things: plausible, sympathetic, and original.

I think that’s a damn good definition of what makes a character real. Except that I think Mr. Block used the wrong word. It’s not “sympathetic,” it’s “empathetic.” Now, sympathy and empathy are kissing cousins, but sympathy, I think, allows the individual to separate from the character just a bit, to feel for the character while still allowing for some separation – six degrees of separation, if you will. Empathy, on the other hand causes the individual to feel with the character– it’s the recognition of self in someone else.

Without that recognition, without that empathy, the character is in danger of falling flat, of eliciting a “who cares?” response. The great characters are empathetic – Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With The Wind, the Joad family (especially Tom and “Ma”) of The Grapes Of Wrath, Vito and Michael Coreleone of The Godfather, Caleb Trask of East Of Eden, Joe and Kirsten Clay of Days Of Wine And Roses, Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, King George VI in The King’s Speech.

In comics there is Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and his sister, Death, the X-Men’s Max Eisenhardt/Erik Lensherr/Magneto and Jean Grey/Phoenix (Dark and “Light”), Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson, Selina Kyle/Catwoman, and Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman. Of course there are more; I just chose those characters that appeared at the top of my head as I write this. You will have your own characters that engender empathy.

Originality is hard.  The history of storytelling begins when our ancestors first sat down around the fire and told tales to ward off the dark night. The history of storytelling is ripe with heroes and villains, love and betrayal, valor and cowardice. Originality, I think, comprises the total picture. As Block says in his book Telling Lies For Fun And Profit, “it’s not the quirks that make an enduring character, but the essential personality which the quirks highlight.” In other words, and like I said, it’s the whole picture, the complete character or individual that makes him or her an original.

Norma Desmond’s quirk is her inability to adjust to age and talkies, to realize and accept that time, and Hollywood, has marched on. Tom Joad’s quirk is his inability to accept injustice, even if it causes him to murder, which he sees as no injustice. Vito Coreleone’s quirk is to see the world as an “us against them” scenario, to nurture the family while attacking the world. Michael Coreleone’s quirk is to talk of love and loyalty to the family while he destroys it.  Swamp Thing’s quirk is that he is a plant trying to be a man. And Death loves life, even as she takes it away.

Plausibility allows the reader to suspend his or her disbelief, to accept that the actions of the character are true and real and acceptable. Now in comics, of course, plausibility is a two-edged sword. Of course we know that nobody can fly; nobody is invulnerable or runs at supersonic speed; no one can turn invisible or survive the explosion of a gamma bomb (except Bruce Banner, of course!) But as readers of superhero comics, we willingly suspend our disbelief, the implausibility of the character, before we even open the book. Why? Well, I think it has something to do with the capturing of our imagination, the “what if?” factor that I wrote about several months ago. But I also think that the other factors mentioned above play a role in our acceptance of Superman or Rogue. Empathy: “I get it. I know what it’s like to be Rogue, to be unable to really touch someone, to really get close to someone.” Or “Yeah, sometimes I feel like Kal-El, a stranger in a strange land.”

I watched Game Change on HBO. The movie is based on Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, by John Heilemann of New York magazine and Mark Halperin of Time. Both men are seasoned politically analysts, and their book, which was released on January 11, 2010, is an inside look at the Presidential campaign of 2008. The HBO movie focuses on Palin, played by Julianne Moore, from the moment the McCain campaign decides to ask her to be his running mate to Obama’s running mate.

The movie is riveting. Moore buries herself completely into the role, and I’m guaranteeing right now that she wins an Emmy for her performance. Sarah Palin is, without a doubt, love her or hate her, an original. She is empathetic – and sympathetic – as she works to maintain her sense of self and, love them or hate them, her own beliefs against the McCain and Republican political machinery.

But is she plausible? The movie shows that, as far as being capable of being “one heartbeat away from the Presidency,” Palin was an implausible candidate. But don’t tell that to the huge – and I mean huge – groundswell of love and support she engendered.

Yesterday afternoon I went to my local comic book store, Vector Comics, to pick up my haul. Joe and Tina, the terrific and wonderful owners of the shop, were busy with other customers, so I browsed through the stacks to see if anything not on my list that caught my interest. (Actually, almost everything piques my appetite, and if I allowed myself to buy everything I want, I couldn’t pay the rent!)

Know what I found? The Sarah Palin comic from Bluewater Comics.

What a character!

TUESDAY: Michael Davis


Boom!’s Straw Poll Show Comic Book Fans are a Discriminating Lot

The following press release just arrived from our friends and BOOM! and it should be noted that it was conducted before yesterday’s announcement that Sarah Palin was not planning to run for President.

October 6th, 2011 – Los Angeles, CA – BOOM! announces the results of DECISION 2012, the comic book industry’s first straw poll: Barack Obama has won, with the top Republican candidacy going to Sarah Palin and a shocking result for last place: Rick Perry!

The results:
1. Barack Obama
2. Sarah Palin
3. Ron Paul
4. Michele Bachmann
5. Mitt Romney
6. Herman Cain
7. Newt Gingrich
8. Jon Huntsman
9. Rick Santorum
10. Rick Perry

As explained in the original press release announcing the straw poll, only candidates who sell more than 1,500 copies of a book will have their biographical comic book printed. As a result, only the top 4 candidates made that benchmark: the other six candidates’ comic books will not be printed.

“I’m really excited about collecting all these comics,” said Brett Schenker, Online Political Strategist who has worked for such political luminaries as John Kerry and Chris Dodd. “I wish this were around when I was working on Presidential campaigns, it’s a fun thing to support, but a great souvenir to remember the people I tried to get elected.”

The DECISION 2012 line of comics and comic book’s first straw poll isn’t just a contest, but also a great way for voters and students to educate themselves on the candidates running in the 2012 Presidential Election. This series of biographical comic books details the history and political lives of the candidates for the 2012 Presidential Election, giving non-partisan background on the candidates. The DECISION 2012 line of comic books is aimed at anyone of any age who enjoys reading and discussing U.S. politics.
More information on the straw poll and the DECISION 2012 line of comics can be found here: http://www.decision2012comics.com

Mike Huckabee Scolds Natalie Portman

Mike Huckabee Scolds Natalie Portman

Mike Huckabee's gonna regret his comment about...

Amidala's sweet babboo finds Mike Huckabee's lack of faith "disturbing". Image by Doc_Brown via Flickr

Apparently Mike Huckabee, Fox News host and theoretical presidential candidate, thinks that Natalie Portman, star of Thor, Black Swan, V for Vendetta and the Star Wars prequels is actually Murphy Brown.

Here’s Mike Huckabee, in 2011, on Natalie Portman having a child with her fiancee before they’re actually married:

“One of the most troubling things is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet that boasts of, hey look, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having children and they’re doing just fine.”

“There aren’t really a lot of single moms out there that are making millions of dollars each year by being in a movie.”

“I think it gives a distorted image that not everybody hires nannies and caretakers and nurses. Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and would not get healthcare.”

However, it seems that Gov. Huckabee has a short and/or selective memory.

Here’s Mike Huckabee, in 2008, on Bristol Palin having a child with her fiancee before they’re actually married:

“It ought to be a reminder that here is a family that loves one another. They stuck with each other though the tough times and that’s what families do.” … Huckabee said the surprise pregnancy announcement should not affect vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s support in the conservative and religious right communities. … “I’m grateful for the way she’s being supported by her family.”

I presume the difference here is that Natalie Portman is Jewish, or Huckabee thinks the father of Portman’s child really is Darth Vader. It makes as much sense as any other reason he can come up with for his double standard.

Hat tip: Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic.

Jesus, meet Jon McNaughton, then meet ‘Shortpacked’

Jesus, meet Jon McNaughton, then meet ‘Shortpacked’

A little Sunday morning blasphemy for y’all:

First, we have this painting by Jon McNaughton featuring Jesus Christ, creator of the heavens and earth and bearer of the US Constitution, flanked by, among others, Thomas Jefferson (a deist who actually rewrote his own version of the Bible to take out all the miracles and mysticism and just leave the philosophy), Ronald Reagan, and Christa McAuliffe. At his feet on his right you have the good guys– the farmer, the
Christian minister, the US Marine, the handicapped child, the mother, the black
college student, the schoolteacher who vaguely resembles Sarah Palin.

On the other side– Jesus’ left side, wink wink– is a professor holding a copy of Darwin’s Origin of the Species, a politician, a lawyer counting his money, a liberal news reporter, Mr. Hollywood, and a Supreme Court Justice weeping over Roe v. Wade, and of course, SATAN!

And yes, there’s a full listing explaining exactly what each person and position is supposed to represent. Click through to see what they all are (and order your own print, of course). You gotta admire the dedication to detail– it immediately reminded me of the political cartoon Dave Gibbons parodied in the back of Watchmen #8, with the same amount of over detail and overenthusiasm.

This desperately needed to be parodied, and David Willis at Shortpacked beat us to it.

‘Theory of International Politics and Zombies’ from ForeignPolicy.com

‘Theory of International Politics and Zombies’ from ForeignPolicy.com

First, we had the worry about if the cops would tell us about a zombie outbreak.

Then it was the math paper prescribing what to do when zombies attack.

Now, we’re getting foreign policy prescriptions about zombie nations written by professors at Tufts.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and he ponders what would different systemic international relations theories predict regarding the effects of a zombie outbreak:

Now, some would dispute whether neoconservatism is a
systemic argument, but let’s posit that it’s a coherent IR theory.  To
its credit, the neoconservatives would recognize the zombie threat as
an existential threat to the human way of life.  Humans are from Earth,
whereas zombies are from Hades — clearly, neoconservatives would argue, zombies hate us for our freedom not to eat other humans’ brains.   

the threat might be existential, accomodation or recognition are not
options.  Instead, neocons would quickly gear up an aggressive response
to ensure human hegemony
However, the response would likely be to invade and occupy the central
state in the zombie-affected area.  After creating a human outpost in
that place, humans in neighboring zombie-affected countries would be
inspired to rise up and overthrow their own zombie overlords.  Alas,
while this could happen, a more likely outcone would be that,
after the initial “Mission Accomplished” banner had been raised, a
fresh wave of zombies would rise up, enmeshing the initial landing
force — which went in too light and was drawn down too quickly — in a
protracted, bloody stalemate. 

I’m waiting for the feminist theory of zombies any day n– whoops, never mind, Annalee Newitz has been there, done that, and eaten the brains. Maybe we can do something with Sarah Palin…

Death Cab for Sarah Palin

Death Cab for Sarah Palin

Editorial cartoonist Ted Rall and animator David Essman have released a hilarious, vicious parody of GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to celebrate Election Day 2008.
Distributed for free on YouTube and at tedrall.com, "Death Cab for Palin" is an animated political cartoon that lampoons Sarah Palin’s presidential ambitions. Noting that vice presidents frequently become presidents, "Death Cab" depicts a rabid Vice President Palin trying to poison and bomb President McCain in the manner of the classic "Road Runner" cartoon series.

Rall, a syndicated cartoonist for Universal Press Syndicate, is no stranger to controversy. His "Terror Widows" and "FDNY 2011" cartoons after 9/11 were some of the most controversial cartoons in U.S. history. Will "Death Cab for Sarah" join their ranks? "I don’t know," says Rall, "but it was such a fun idea I just couldn’t resist going with it."

Rall’s editorial cartoons and columns are syndicated to more than 100 newspapers around the U.S. Twice the winner of the RFK Journalism Award and a Pulitzer Finalist, he is President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

Essman is an animator currently at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His animated films have been screened across the country, including Animation Block Party, The Chicago Underground Film Festival, and the St. Louis International Film Festival.

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ComicMix Radio: Palin In Four Colors

ComicMix Radio: Palin In Four Colors

It seemed like it had to happen. The life and career of Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin comes to comics, but with a twist ending. We’ve got the story, plus:

  • Tomorrow is a bug day in Bedrock
  • More Terminator coming from Dynamic
  • Darwin Cooke explains just why Parker is so damn cool

Do your civic duty and Press the Button!


And remember, you can always subscribe to ComicMix Radio podcasts via iTunes - ComicMix or RSS!


Moustache Wax, by Dennis O’Neil

Moustache Wax, by Dennis O’Neil

My brother had a Sportsman McCain sticker on his car, but I wasn’t worried. The night before, a nice young man in a bookstore, a complete stranger, gave me a big peace button and with that pinned to my vest, I was pretty sure I was safe from the McCain vibes, even though we were in a red state.

I watched Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live a few hours later, and although I thought she handled the comedy okay, and my dirty old man merit badge glowed just a tiny bit, I was and am not tempted to vote for her, no siree, and so I guess the peace button was potent even indoors.

Who might that nice young man have been? Merlin? Galahad? The ghost of Thomas Jefferson? Or, given that I was in St. Louis, land of the mighty arch and my childhood, the ghost of my own naïve, youthful dreams?

Ah well. No matter. What’s important is that the peace button/amulet did its stuff.

As a shield against the dark enchantments of McCain and Palin, it did its stuff. In other areas…not so good. At this moment, our luggage is somewhere between White Plains Airport and Dulles, or between Dulles and Lambert Field, or in a terminal or storage facility in one of those three terminals. This provides me with an absolutely unnecessary reminder of one of several reasons why I hate commercial flying. Or – could it be? – our bags are in a sub-basement of the Republican National Headquarters where Palin herself is squirting my moustache wax from the little tube, seeking the secret of how I resisted her SNL appearance. (Rest easy: she won’t find it. The peace button was in my carryon.)

And what, the inquisitive among you might be asking, has any of this to do with comics, popular culture, or even real politics, for it seems to be less concerned with any of those things than an Andy Rooney kvetch about how expensive goods are nowadays has to do with the Gross National Product. Fair question. Answer? Let me see…Okay, try this.


Power, by Dennis O’Neil

Power, by Dennis O’Neil

For a while now, I’ve been thinking that maybe Jonathan Lethem is the best writer of his generation. What prevents me from just coming out with it… Dammit, Lethem is the king! – is that I haven’t read many other writers of Lethem’s (and my son’s) generation. Maybe the Elvis Presley of prosemeisters is lurking out there someplace, with a birthday that puts him somewhere between 40 and 50, and I just haven’t heard of him. So let me be content with stating the obvious, that Lethem does his job well.

He writes novels and essays and, lately, comic books. But what I want to call your attention to and, incidentally, dub this week’s Recommended Reading, is his op-ed piece in last Sunday’s New York Times. It discusses the latest Batman movie and relates the film to what’s happening in our tortured nation. It’s a pretty gloomy bit of superb writing. But how could it not be gloomy? I said it was about what’s happening to the good old U. S. of A., didn’t I? Where could cheer come from? Maybe Johnny Mac’s flacks?

Yeah, the market imploded and some of it received a bailout from the Feds and who will eventually foot the bill? Ol’ tax payin’ you and me, that’s who. But that’s not what’s eating my lunch. I mean… economics! Finance! Who understands that stuff? Certainly not me. (I used to think that those boring old guys in suits, whose job it is to understand that stuff, did, in fact, understand it. Guess not, though.) But what bothers me for the next five minutes, or until I see another newspaper or watch CNN some more, is that according to one poll, 54 percent of the pollees think Sarah Palin is qualified to be president.

This gives me sadness, and a profound feeling of alienation, because nothing in Ms. Palin’s record, nor anything I’m aware she’s said since being anointed Johnny Mac’s running mate, indicates that she is even qualified for the governance jobs she’s already had, much less the biggest of the big leagues, and I wonder what they’re seeing that I’m not, my fellow Americans. Or do they want a leader who apparently believes the First Amendment has no more importance than the slip of paper in a fortune cookie? That denies the validity of evolution? That thinks the current military debacle is a mission from God… ? No point in continuing the catalogue… If my fellows know of these things and they don’t care about them, then the system is broken. If they don’t know… well. how could they not?