Category Archives: Politics

Bernie Sanders is Team Cap

Via Memes for Bernie http://memesforbernie.tumblr.com/post/126277120676

While politics may be serious (or not serious enough depending on who you ask), there’s a bit of silliness that creeps in, especially when it comes to campaign season. Theatrics play a large role, and questions posed to candidates range from substantive policy to boxers or briefs?

The Daily Dot took it upon themselves to ask the biggest question out there:

Where do the candidates stand on the Superhero Registration Act?

For those that might not know, this summer’s upcoming film Captain America: Civil War, based off of the Marvel comic series Civil War, pits Captain America against Iron Man as the two have a fall out concerning legislation that would force superheroes to register with the government. In the comics Captain America stood against the legislation while Iron Man was pro-registration.

We can speculate as to where the candidates stand on this pressing issue, and if they’re #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan, but one candidate actually responded, Bernie Sanders.

Yes, we can now reveal that the Bernie Sanders campaign is #TeamCap, endorsing Captain America in this year’s fictional Marvel showdown.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Sanders campaign responded. Campaign manager Jeff Weaver is not just a friend and adviser to Sanders, as well as running the Presidential campaign, Weaver also has a long history with comic books. After years of collecting and needing a break from politics, in 2009 Weaver opened the shop Victory Comics just outside of Washington, DC in Falls Church (a store I frequent). Weaver is also the “co-discoverer of the Lost Valley Pedigree Collection—an original Golden Age pedigree collection that consisted of many of the most significant and well preserved examples of comics from the dawn of the hobby to the 1950s.” In May Weaver took a break from Victory to return to the campaign trail, he managed Sanders’ first Senate campaign in 2006, and worked on his earlier campaigns.

We know which side Sanders stands with, sound off in the comments as to where you think the rest would be.

Marvel Has a Trump Problem

This past week there was a bit of a shitstorm as Ike Perlmutter, the CEO of Marvel Comics, donated $1 million to Donald Trump‘s fundraiser “benefiting veterans,” but in reality funds flowed to the Donald J. Trump Foundation. That donation created calls for boycotts of the company, though the donation came from Perlmutter’s own money not the corporation and was to his charity not his campaign. Except, now that fundraiser is being used in stump speeches and as part of his campaign brand. Trump is also using Perlmutter’s name, Marvel’s brand, and the company’s success during his stump speech.

I’ve said this donation creates a perception problem from Marvel with their “progressive brand” being tied in with the racist misogynist Islamophobic Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump. Trump is being smart by tying himself to the Marvel brand, which judging by the box office, is viewed favorably currently.

This is from a campaign even in Waterloo, Iowa that happened today.

This is from a campaign rally on January 31 in Sioux City, Iowa.

Depending who you ask Trump has either is viewed unfavorably by 55% of individuals or 60%. Not an individual to be associated with.

It’s crisis time Marvel, especially if Trump moves on in the Presidential race. Expect this to be used even more by him.

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Vermont Public Radio Explains the Iowa Caucus with LEGO

If you’ve wondered how the Iowa Caucuses work, Taylor Dobbs & Angela Evancie and Vermont Public Radio have put together this handy video with LEGO figures to help explain it all.

There is a difference between the Democrats and Republicans when it comes to this and if you’d like to find that out, you can here.

Today’s the big day, so if you’re out in Iowa, go participate and sound off with your experience below!

 

On Boycotts and Marvel

isaac-perlmutter_416x416On Thursday, Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter was announced as one of the donors to Donald Trump‘s fundraiser to “benefit veterans.” I put that last bit in quotations since it’s unclear exactly where the money will be going other than the Donald J. Trump Foundation. During the event, Trump announced Perlmutter had donated $1 million to the cause.

Almost immediately individuals took to the internet voicing their displeasure feeling that Perlmutter’s donation and involvement with Trump was a tacit sign up support for the Republican Presidential Candidate/business man/celebrity’s policies and views which can only be summed up as racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, misogynistic, and I can go on and on.

Calls for boycotts followed with individuals stating they would no longer watch films based on Marvel properties and/or purchase or read comics produced by the publisher. They also felt that Perlmutter’s donation was a slap in the face of the progressive changes the comic publisher has made in its publishing line, though the company still has far to go when it comes to those making the comics.

The reclusive Perlmutter has a history of “issues,” and this donation is only the latest. In 2012 it was reported that he is verbally abusive to staff, even threatening a female staffer that he had a “bullet with [her] name on it.” It was also reported that Perlmutter said no one would notice Terrance Howard being replaced in Iron Man 2 because blacks “look the same.” Though he donated $1 million to Trump’s cause, he’s also notoriously stingy in spending when it comes to his employees. And it’s not like he hasn’t been involved in politics in the past. His wife donated $2 million to Marco Rubio’s campaign (who has issues of his own), as well as contributing to Rudy Giuliani’s Presidential bid (again issues).

In other words, nothing of his behavior is new or shocking.

The reaction by creators, especially those that work for Marvel, has been mixed to the calls for boycotts and attacks directed towards Marvel. The responses have ranged from the claim that this donation was from Perlmutter not Marvel, to boycotts impacting creators and not him.

Those responses are disappointing to hear, especially from many who claim the “progressive” mantel. It diminishes someone else’s belief and action they want to take. It’s also ignores the reality of boycotts which have a very long history. They can be very successful and make change if they are sustained especially when mixed with other actions.

make-it-rain-dollarsBoycotts don’t work on their own. Mixed with the tarnishing of a brand, they can be an excellent way to make change and get a company to change a policy, staffing, or support over what’s disagreed with. In theory it would impact Perlmutter along with creators. If sales were to decrease you’d hope Marvel’s parent company Disney would look in to WHY sales have dipped and make adjustments, ie remove Perlmutter as CEO. That’s the logic behind a boycott. The reality of this happening with just a boycott is slim as Disney needs to connect the decrease in sales with the reason for the decrease. As a whole the brand needs to be attacked, not just avoiding their product and output. This action does work though.

The second part of the strawman argument is that Perlmutter’s money is not Marvel’s or that this would only impact creators. Perlmutter earned roughly $1.5 billion from the sale of Marvel to Disney in 2009. I’d assume as CEO he still earns a paycheck and benefits in his role, and as CEO he directly influences the company. I can attest in my experience in the business world, a CEO’s worldview directly impacts the attitude of the company they run in direction, goals, and how employees are treated. I went from working in a company whose corporate culture shifted after a new CEO was installed to a new company where the CEO implements policies that reflect its liberal/progressive leanings (in this case increased parental leave for both parents). The CEO sets the standard, and while I don’t know Perlmutter’s day to day involvement, anecdotally it sounds like he has a lot. While Marvel touts its diversity in the characters and comics it produces, behind the scenes that’s not necessarily the case. Perlmutter himself may be the reason its taken so long for a woman to headline a Marvel film. The fact remains, he has made his money from, and continues to earn from, Marvel. The goal of a boycott would be to change that, and unfortunately would impact creators too.

But, I have to ask, is working for Marvel worth working for this man?

proudliberalstarsbuttonthumbFor those who wear their progressive badge and do, they have made a choice, just as they ignore past abuses of creators by the company. This aren’t issues that creators face just at Marvel. Other publishers regularly have taken, or take, advantage of creators. I have been told by those working in the industry of moves by publishers that borderline on illegal in how staff are treated, and those actions very well may be. I haven’t reported on them due to the lack of corroborating evidence. There is no truly progressive comic company that I know of that pays a liveable wage (or more) to all staff, profit shares with creators, provides healthcare, good benefits, the list goes on. As fans who purchase comics, we not just make this compromise in the beliefs we hold dear, but we also make those choices and compromises in everything we do. We are all hypocritical in some way.

But, that hypocrisy gives creators no right to condemn one’s choice and decision to boycott. It is an individual’s choice in how they want their voice heard and the actions they want to take. It is their decision. In this case their way is to speak with their wallet.

I in no way condemn one’s decision in a boycott (I encourage it as action unto itself), just like we should not have been condemned for our past calls (it’s funny how censorship hasn’t come up in this case, but that’s a discussion about hypocrisy for another day).

Laura Sneddon said it best on Twitter.

Plenty of great folk work for Marvel. There are plenty of legit reasons to boycott Marvel. The former does not negate the latter.

Everyone has to make a living. If the folks you work for do something seen as immoral you either change job or take the hit.

Happens to us all at some point. Them’s the breaks.

But don’t guilt trip those making an ethical stand.

So Marvel’s CEO used his ~personal~ money. So it’s Trump rather than an anti-gay/women/whatever charity. People have the right to boycott.

And they have the expectation not to be shamed, judged or guilt tripped by comic creators. Especially those who self-label as progressive.

I have companies and individuals that I choose not to support with my money and I spend it elsewhere. It’s neat how that works.

Similarly I’m veg*n AND understand that doesn’t help individual animals or hurt profits. But it doesn’t /help/ the practises I oppose.

Everyone draws their lines in different places according to their own moral compass and means. That’s all that really needs said in fact.

I’ve been struggling with what “action” I want to take, and think I have made my choice (more to come with that). But agree or disagree with what an individual chooses to do, it is their choice, it is their empowerment.

Marvel’s Perlmutter Cuts $1M Check for Trump’s Veterans Fundraiser

marvel featuredThursday saw the latest Republican Presidential debate, but this one was controversial as candidate Donald Trump refused to attend due to his rampant sexism misogyny fear of Fox News‘ Megyn Kelly who was one of the moderators for the debate and he felt was mean unfair to him in the past.

Instead Trump held his own rally raising money for wounded veterans during the same time of the debate. It’s unknown WHAT charity that Trump’s fundraising will benefit, but that didn’t stop Marvel’s CEO Ike Perlmutter from committing $1 million to the fundraiser, which raised $6 million according to Trump himself. That was mostly from a small group of wealthy donors, including some felons. As far as folks can tell, the donations will go to the Donald J. Trump foundation, which has no history of being involved with veteran groups.

You can watch Trump announce Perlmutter’s donation a little after the 1 minute mark:

The Hollywood Reporter said when they broke the news:

“One of the great, great men of our country in terms of business and talent,” Trump said.

A rep for Perlmutter said: “The Perlmutters are thrilled to support their friend Donald Trump in his efforts to help veterans.”

The Perlmutters also donated $2 million to Marco Rubio’s campaign this season.

This isn’t the first time Perlmutter has been involved in Presidential politics. He also donated to Rudy Giuliani’s failed Presidential bid.

perlmutter_donations

Earlier this week Marvel announced their teaming up with the Wounded Warrior Project to help raise awareness about issues facing veterans. That has issues unto itself, which we laid out, as the WWP has been accused of wasting money raised and benefiting employees.

So, when it comes to veterans and Marvel this week, they’re 0 for 2.

Dear Marvel. Do Your Research on the Wounded Warrior Project.

Raf Noboa y Rivera provides a guest post for Graphic Policy. Rafael Noboa y Rivera is a writer living in New York City. You can read more at rafaelnoboa.com, or follow him on Twitter at @noboa.

VenomSpaceKnight003_CoverThere’s probably no class of American more universally revered than the veteran. I know, I’m one. Pedestals abound on which we place women and men like me; monuments to the guilt and appreciation that the country feels for people who are at once known and unknown to us.

To support us; to thank us; to ameliorate the conscience and assuage the guilt, Americans contribute to all kinds of organizations that support veterans. These are known as veterans’ service organizations. Some of them you know: the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars. Some of them, not so much.

Then there’s the Wounded Warrior Project. You probably know about this one because of its nigh-inescapable presence on TV. Ads with cloying music; a celebrity earnestly asking you to care. Pictures of a vet in the fullness of health, followed by devastating video of that same veteran struggling to cope with the injuries caused by war. Then a pitch for funds to help.

Most Americans “know” veterans through our culture. Whether it’s someone like Nicholas Brodie in Homeland, Chris Kyle in American Sniper, or Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-O, depictions of veterans in popular culture begin to abound the further we seemingly get from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Comics are no different. Venom: Space Knight, for instance, features a Iraq veteran front-and-center. Not just any veteran, either: a veteran who is disabled, thanks to the wounds suffered in Iraq. Flash Thompson, the character in question, lost his legs in the war. His alter-ego, an alien symbiote, gives him not just strength but the ability to walk.

ww_1Because of that, Marvel Comics is joining with Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) in order to bring attention to the issues that veterans deal with. Their upcoming story arc focuses on Thompson’s struggle with learning how to use prostheses, as well as well as his daily struggles with life as a double-amputee.

I love the idea of Marvel using its phenomenal cultural might to garner veterans the help they need. I strongly dislike that they’re partnering with WWP to do that. Of all the organizations that Marvel could’ve picked, WWP is probably the worst.

WWP is notorious among veterans like me for doing very little to actually help us. The money they ask for in those ads? Very little of it winds up helping veterans. Most of it, in fact, goes towards either self-promotion (those cloying, saccharine TV ads) or internal support — salaries for their executive officers, lavish offices, that sort of thing.

ww_2

It’s a shame, because there’s organizations out there that could totally use the help. Take the Fisher House, for instance. This is a network of comfort homes where families of veterans can stay at no cost whilst their veteran is receiving care from a VA or military medical center. Thompson’s family would qualify. I’m sure that the Fisher House would love the publicity.

Fisher House isn’t the only one. Team Rubicon’s gotten a lot of deserved plaudits for leveraging the expertise of veterans in helping communities get over disasters. The Pat Tillman Foundation, set up by the family of the former NFL star who died in a tragic friendly-fire incident in Afghanistan, runs a scholarship program for veterans. Its charge is building a diverse community of people who are committed to public service and helping others.

The list goes on — the Bob Woodruff Family Foundation. Operation Homefront. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. Swords to Plowshares. All of these charities actually do what the Wounded Warriors Project claims to do, and fails to actually accomplish — help veterans and their families.

Here’s the thing: it didn’t take a whole of effort to dig this information up. Criticism of WWP is fairly widespread, and goes back several years. Certainly, talking and engaging with communities of veterans reveals that information. Not only that, it helps point the way towards organizations that actually engage with veterans, and don’t just use them as props for personal gain.

ww_3

I’m glad that Marvel is doing this. I’m looking forward to seeing how this particular storyline develops; it’s got the potential to depict veterans like me as humans in their fullness, rather than marbled figures on a pedestal, there to be venerated. I just wish that, fourteen years after we began fighting our latest war, Marvel had done their homework a little better. The beauty of it is that there’s always another story on the horizon, and another moment for redemption. Let’s hope they don’t let it pass by on the by.

The Political Machine 2016, Out February 4

The Political Machine 2016 will be released February 4, just a few short days after the Iowa Caucuses. The video game from Stardock Software is a political simulator that has you choosing your candidate, or create your own, and pits you in a head-to-head  race in the general election.

There’s lots of issues and influences that will determine how well you do, much like real life elections.

Make your run for President of the United States! Take a stance on current issues, stretch the truth, and smear your opponents as you climb your way to the top of Capitol Hill!

Choose one of over a dozen presidental candidates or create your own ideal candidate. Give speeches, go on talk shows, hire unsavory operatives and do whatever it takes to win on election day.

In the game you use power and money to purchase ads and influence voters, and allows you to challenge friends in a multiplayer mode. The simulation uses census data and real issues to test your political abilities.

The video game is available in Early Access on Steam for $9.99.

(via GamePolitics)

Cosplay’s Fate May Rest with the Supreme Court

Ms._Marvel_1_Cosplay_VariantThe fate of cosplay is on the line with the upcoming Supreme Court case Star Athletica, L.L.C., Petitioner v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al. While the case involves cheerleading uniforms, it has a major impact on hobbyists.

The basics of the case is to whether costume designs can be covered by copyright. Can the people who copy those designs be sued for damages?

If you ask Varsity Brands, the answer is yes, they are covered and you can sue. Star Athletica is on the other side and they are of the thought that clothing designs are exempted from copyright.

The whole case revolves around the idea of “useful articles” and whether clothing falls under that. The idea of that is that there’s things that are functional and things that are creative. For example a hammer is functional, but what the hammer helps make might be creative. What happens when something is both, like clothing? It’s a gray area.

Entire clothing lines and outlets rely on the ability to make knock-off clothing and sell them for cheaper than their name brand counterparts.

There have been ten different theories of how all of this works according to courts.

If the court were to decide Varsity it would allow creators and comic companies to copyright costume designs and sue companies producing professionally made real world versions, or even hobbyists. Cosplay is growing in to a big business, and there’s money to be made by publishers and creators in licensing of designs.

If you don’t believe me, a court recently decided in Warner Bros. and DC Comic’s favor over the copyright concerning the 1966 Batmobile. While a slightly different case, it shows companies are looking to control their intellectual property. That case was recently asked to be considered by the Supreme Court as well.

There isn’t currently a date set as to when the court will hear the case, an extension has been given for those involved to file responses to the petition. The date for that has been extended to March 4, 2016.

(via Public Knowledge)

Trump is Gollum? Rand Paul Butchers the Lord of the Rings

Rand 2016Politicians and candidates referencing comic books and movies is nothing new. Cong. Alan Grayson sent an email referencing Green Lantern. Marco Rubio’s Presidential team listed their love of comics on their Twitter profile.

Republican Presidential candidate Rand Paul has gone on a weird tangent comparing fellow Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump to Gollum from The Lord of the Rings.

In a Facebook post entitled “Electing Gollum Should Not Be Our Objective,” Paul for President wrote:

One candidate on this national stage wants you to give him power. He tells you he is rich, so he must be smart.

If you give him power he claims he will fix America, but there is another tradition in America. A tradition that believes that power corrupts, and that our goal should be not to gain power but to contain power or limit Presidential power. Our founding fathers feared centralization of power.

They wrote the constitution to restrain the accumulation of power by the government. Trump is ignorant of this tradition, or worse yet, he is overtly opposed to the limited government tradition.

This race should not be about who can grasp the ring. Electing Gollum should not be our objective. This race should be about which candidate will best protect you from an overbearing government.

I am the only one on this national stage who really doesn’t want power or dominion over you. I want to set you free, I want to leave you alone, and I want a government so small you can barely see it.

The Lord of the Rings reference comes out of left field a bit. In an email Paul’s team continued, expanding on the metaphor with a fundraising pitch:

In many ways, the campaign for the Republican nomination for President of the United States has reminded me of one of my favorite movie series.

Lord of the Rings.

You may recall the character Gollum. Gollum was a man who become corrupted by absolute power, and became obsessed with obtaining the “Ring of Power, the ring to rule them all”.

Donald Trump shares Gollum’s unquenchable thirst for absolute power and to rule over Mordor. Or in this case, Washington, D.C.

Patriot, you and I must do everything that we can stop Gollum from gaining the Ring of Power.

Will you donate anything you can afford to help my campaign?

You may also recall there is a scene in the last movie, where Aragorn is leading his men into battle against Suaron and his Orc armies.

He tells them this before the battle:

“I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day… Today we fight!”

As we approach the Iowa Caucus, your support means more than ever.

Together, we can defeat Donald Trump, win the Iowa Caucus and defeat the Washington Machine. Donate anything you can today.

I am counting on you.

Ok, maybe they shouldn’t have expanded on it? Where to begin, but we’ll go for the easiest:

  1. Gollum is a Stoor Hobbit, not a man
  2. Gollum doesn’t want to rule Mordor

So, while a nice attempt recounting Paul’s “favorite movie,” the email fails on multiple levels, and should cost him the Tolkein fan vote.

Duke Nukem’s Voice Says No to Republican Campaigns

Duke-Nukem-3DA top Republican Presidential campaign wanted Jon St. John to do some voice over work for them. Why do we care and why are we reporting it?

You might know St. John as the voice of the popular video game character Duke Nukem, one that’s known for his humorous quips.

Writing on Facebook, St. John said:

I don’t like to turn down jobs…especially when it’s a national ad campaign that pays pretty well. But I have a conscience and could not accept a gig to be the advertising voice of the Republican party’s leading candidate for president. Thanks for the kind offer, but I will sleep just fine at night knowing I made a choice I can live with. Meanwhile I’m happy to be recording a new video game today

Asked by The Verge to clarify which candidate it was, St. John said

I should have written ‘a leading GOP candidate for president’. It might have been Trump or Cruz. Either way, I would not have done it.

Trump? Cruz? Rubio’s team did list comics as an interest. Who do you have as the candidate?

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