Tomorrow is midterms election day in the United States with the House, some of the Senate, Governors, State races, and more up for election. We of course encourage everyone to get out and vote. If you still need help deciding who to vote for, you can use this handy site to help you out.
With an election cycle, it also means lots of money donated to both sides and PACs who either go all in for a part or hedge their bets. So, when it comes to donations, how does the comic industry shake out?
Using the FEC website, we took a look searching for about a dozen publishers. What isn’t included is some creators who haven’t listed a publisher or those that list Disney or Warner Bros. We standardized the employer (ex. Marvel Studio vs Marvel Studios, Marvel TV vs Marvel Television) and then marked if the donation was to a Democratic cause or Republican. For PACs, I used Open Secrets to see who that PAC donated to, and if it was clear it benefited one party, they were included in that party. In almost every case, PACS were partisan. The exception to that is the Walt Disney Employees PAC which splits their givings about 50/50 and seems to change with the political winds. Marvel Entertainment was included while Marvel Studios, Marvel Animation, and Marvel Television were not.
So, how does the industry donate?
The comic industry donated over $74,546.40
The industry also heavily favors donations to Democrats in a ratio of a little over 2:1.
That comes from 1,762 contributions from 136 individuals.
That comes to an average donation of $42.31 but there’s a massive difference between parties.
While we don’t regularly cover wrestling, we do have a political bent, so we bring the news that the Big Red Machine is heading to the Mayor’s office. Glenn Jacobs, who is better known as the WWE wrestler Kane, won his bid for Mayor of Knox County, Tennessee.
Jacobs beat his opponent by a wide margin garnering 51,804 versus the Democratic nominee Linda Haney’s 26,224. Jacobs won the Republican primary by just 23 votes over fellow Republican Brad Anders.
Knox County is the home to Knoxville and the third-most populous count in Tennessee.
Jacobs originally wanted to play pro footbally but a knee injury ended those dreams. Instead, he focused on wrestling and spent years in local promotions before joining the WWE in 1995. He debuted “Kane” two years later.
Jacob’s new position isn’t a strange turn for a wrestler. Jesse Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota on the third-party Reform Party ticket in 1998 and served as mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota from 1991 to 1995. B. Brian Blair was elected Couty Commissioner in 2004 for Hillsborough, Florida. Rick Steiner won for school board for the Cherokee County School District in 2006. Ludvig Borga spent seven years on the Finnish Parliament. The recently deceased Nikolai Volkoff ran in 2006 for Maryland State Delegate but was unsuccessful. Jerry “The King” Lawler ran for Mayor of Mepmphis and garnered 11.7% of the votes coming in third. Bob Backlund ran for Congress in Connecticut in 2000 as a Republican and lost. Linda McMahon, the CEO of the WWE ran for U.S. Senator in Connectict losing with 43% of the vote. She’s currently a member of the Trump Administration heading the Small Bussiness Administration. Antonio Inoki was an extremely successful politician whose career began while he still competed in the ring. He was elected to the Japanese House of Councillors in 1989 and even led a one-man mission to Iraq in 1990 to negotiate the release of Japanese hostages with Saddam Hussein.
Because it’s simple for the media to report basic facts: polls, standings, vote counts. But think about your life– is there a series of metrics or key performance indicators that can truly reflect your life, your work, your relationships, or the things that really matter? And yet that is how most of us view Congress– through the endless fascination with the scoreboard.
Herein, in my inaugural article (I promise I’ll start talking about movies, comics, and TV soon), I want to talk about baseball, I want to talk about partisanship and the twin-headed dragon that brought us here, and also how, of all things, Looney Tunes offers us a way forward– past just scoreboard, scoreboard, scoreboard.
Because this annual charity baseball game is so much more. Members of Congress describe it as one of the highlights of their year, building important bipartisan relationships. Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA) choked up in a segment on NPR describing his *gasp!* friendship with Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan: “I’ve struck him out on a curve ball a couple of years ago, and every time we see each other, we talk about that. And he just came up and gave me a hug. And it is – it tells you how much we share that’s just something away from this.” (emphasis added)
Decrying “partisanship” is not new– it was well documented in numerous academic articles and journalistic exposes, including Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin in her 2007 book Fight Club Politics: How Partisanship Is Poisoning the House of Representatives, where she noted Democrats and Republicans don’t even go to the same cocktail parties any more. People long for the days when Speaker Tip O’Neill and President Ronald Reagan would get together for drinks.
Bipartisanship seems the cause celebre of every would-be “centrist” “thought leader” inside the DC bubble who claims that both sides are equally as fault and if only everyone was just “nice” to each other, things would be ok. This is not that article.
So, what changed? Did we change? Have we gotten meaner? Who started this slide towards more partisanship?
Rather than cast blame immediately (duh, everyone knows it’s the Republicans’ fault!) I’d rather talk about systemic issues that poison the environment for everyone, making a charity baseball game the rarity rather than the norm. Those two systemic issues are money and gerrymandering.
The amount of money flowing into our elections has exploded. The cost of Congressional Elections has nearly doubled since the 1990s, and had its largest jump between the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. What happened then? Citizens United v FEC, of course. And it’s worth noting we don’t even know how much money has been spent by SuperPACs since then, as none of that spending has to be disclosed.
The average member of Congress spends far more time in their work week dialing for dollars and less time actually governing– with the parties demanding they spend 30 hours a week dialing for dollars and being told to raise ridiculous sums like $18,000 dollars per day.
And, of course, who gives money and what motivates donors? Stories of bipartisan cooperation? Or shows of bravado and signalling your opposition to the other side? If your issue is (abortion, taxes, health care), you will not be motivated to help someone who is “selling out” to, cooperating with the other side– you will fund a filibusterer if it prevents your most hated bill from becoming law. This creates and reinforces the in-group/out-group dynamic that turns political parties into merely the teams wearing the other jersey.
And the second issue is gerrymandering. With members of Congress increasingly likely to live in “safe” districts whose only real challenge could come in the primary, you have every incentive to be as far right or far left as possible. Rarely do primary challengers win based on the idea that “we just need to work with the other side more.”
By removing Big Money and Gerrymandering from the system, we can remove at least some of the systemic issues that keep Republicans and Democrats from working together. But I mentioned Looney Tunes, and that’s where I’m going to end.
Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Wolf are two slightly less-well-known characters from the Chuck Jones classic era, and folks will notice the similarities between Ralph and Wile Coyote. But the key conceit of these cartoons is that Sam and Ralph live together, are friends, and then punch the clock and are immediately working at cross-purposes– usually to inflict violence upon the other.
It is definitely naive to think our politics can be this way. But it’s a nice dream. I’m not saying it’s possible, I’m saying it is worth striving for and far superior to our present situation.
I don’t want our politics to be some mealy-mouthed wishy-washy bland amalgam of discourse, any moreso than I would want to go to a baseball game to see weak hitting, poor pitching, and incompetent fielding. Give me the best– a real challenge of wills with everyone bringing their best. I want grand debates about real issues, and the best ideas clashing against the best issues. I want Republicans and Democrats at each others’ rhetorical throats reminiscent of other great debates among great thinkers in our past.
But I don’t want them to hate each other. I don’t want us to hate each other. And this week– hell, these last six months several years– we’ve seen what happens when we allow infantile debate and personal vitriol to replace grand ideas.
We should be Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Wolf– and when the workday is over, we punch the clock and go have a drink together. We should be the Yankees and the Red Sox during a tight pennant race. We should try to overcome those things that divide us so a single yearly baseball game isn’t the only highlight members of Congress look forward to where they forge real relationships among political rivals.
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:
Gollum is a Stoor Hobbit, not a man
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.
The Log Cabin Republicans is the LGBT organization for members of the Republican party (yes, there’s gay Republicans). The group put together a Super Friends homage to show their support for some Congressmen. The video was originally shown at the 2015 Spirit of Lincoln Event.
Yesterday we brought you the story of Jacob (Jake) A. Rush, a 35-year-old attorney and former sheriff’s deputy is running for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, the Gainesville area. The story became such news that the campaign was forced to respond with a press release and in a bit of a shocker, embraces his gaming past. In fact Rush and his campaign not only embraces it, he points out the positive aspects of his LARPing group (live action roleplaying), and goes on a bit of an attack towards his opponent.
As a straight shooter, yes, I play and have played video games, role playing games, board games, Yahtzee, Clue,and I have acted in dozens of theatre productions.
In the release, Rush owns up to his hobbies and intelligently in the statement above connects activities like LARPing and video games, which have a negative connotation, with positive ones that individuals might be more familiar with like Yahtzee and Clue.
All my life, I’ve been blessed with a vivid imagination from playing George Washington in elementary school to dressing up as a super hero last Halloween for trick or treaters. Any cursory review of the Internet will show that I have played heroes and villains … I have never hid nor shied away from disclosing my hobby activities. When I was hired at the Sheriff’s office, I fully disclosed my gaming and theatre background on the application, and these hobbies posed absolutely no problem or raised any flags. In fact, when applying for undercover work, these hobbies were considered an advantage, so much so my shift lieutenant nicknamed me ‘Shakespeare.’
The Rush campaign accused his opponents of game playing with their false characterization of what LARPing is, but even says it’s a deflection of his opponents failings.
Bottom line-There is nothing wrong with being a gamer. It’s kinda nerdy, but North Central Florida deserves a legitimate debate on the issues instead of Ted Yoho’s usual sideshow distractions.
In the release Rush and his campaign promote the positive community aspects of the Minds Eye Society (the LARPing organization) and the charities they’ve helped including:
Houston Area Women and Children’s Shelter
Ronald McDonald House
Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation
Sanctuary for Families
American Diabetes Association
While we have no issues with Rush’s past, and in fact thing we need more gamers as elected officials, our only question was about comments made on a message board by Rush’s game character. We actually have an answer to that as well. According to the Washington Post:
Another LARPer, Lee Snyder, emailed the Rush campaign and said he had made the comments while gaming as one of Rush’s preferred characters.
It’s April Fools Day, so I did a double take on this one before reporting, but it’s also news out of Florida, so this shouldn’t be a shock at all. Jacob (Jake) A. Rush, a 35-year-old attorney and former sheriff’s deputy is running for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, the Gainesville area. He’s hoping to unseat Representative Ted Yoho, a first-term Tea Party member, in the Republican primary.
While Rush, in his announcement, touted his Constitutional conservative credentials, even with his hand on a Bible in his announcement video, what he didn’t mention is his time as “Chazz Darling” among other persona during his time as a member of the Mind’s Eye Society, you might know them as Vampire/Werewolf/Changeling/Mage LARPers. Larping, Live Action Role Playing, takes the table top game experience and has members act out the story through real actions such as actual sword fights (with foam swords) and play acting. Think of it as a live story that’s made up on the go.
Vampirebecame a popular roleplaying game when it launched in 1991 by White Wolf Publishing, and has since lived on as a popular LARPing choice with events being held regularly throughout the country. Rush was active in this as of last year and is a founding member and “main staff member” of the Gainesville chapter. The chapter’s name is the “Covenant of the Poisoned Absinthe.” Rush has done his best to scrub online evidence of his past, but nothing ever really goes away on the internet leading to numerous news sites dredging up photos of him in his various characters as well as throwing in more incendiary (to conservatives) imagery.
Though some of Rush’s writing is disturbing (including stories about rape and drugs), Florida news articles have wasted no time painting the game as part of the “occult,” “Satan,” and “witchcraft,” mimicking the moral panic of Dungeons & Dragons decades ago.
While Rush hasn’t responded to various media inquiries, his father did equating the hobby with dressing up for Halloween. Since the initial stories hinted that they found out about Rush’s history through anonymous tips, it’s likely either attacks from his opponents, or someone with personal issues with Rush. The campaign said they would issue a statement, but haven’t yet done so as of this article.
While I’ll admit his writings are a bit over the top, even for Vampire LARPing, should his extracurricular activity be held against him? Sound off below with your thoughts.
South Carolina legislators are trying to punish two public colleges for assigning Alison Bechdel‘s praised graphic novel Fun Home. The story deals with Bechdel’s childhood and her closeted gay father and her own coming out as a lesbian.
The state’s House budget-writing committee approved cuts on Wednesday of $52,000 to the College of Charleston and $17,142 from the University of South Carolina Upstate.
Those reductions is about what each college spent on their programs that involved the graphic novel as well as other selections on homosexuality. In USC Upstate’s case, they assigned Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio for a required course for all freshmen. The course also featured lectures and other activities.
Rep. Garry Smith said:
I understand diversity and academic freedom. This is purely promotion of a lifestyle with no academic debate.
The House Ways and Means Committee defeated by a vote of 13-10 an effort by Republican Rep. B.R. Skelton to restore the money. Skelton felt this sort of retribution was inappropriate action from the elected officials.
Skelton is a retired Clemson University professor and said:
If we’re going to begin funding institutions on the basis of books they’ve assigned, we’re going down a road we don’t need to go down.
Rep. Jim Merrill, a Republican felt the whole thing was “stupid” and only to make them “feel better.” That didn’t stop him from voting down Skelton’s attempt to restore the funding.
Skelton felt he wanted to make a point and offered an amendment to force the legislators to approve every book on a college reading list. He then pulled the amendment before a vote took place.
Republican Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has announced his retirement. While we don’t usually cover that sort of news, there is an impact to geekdom because of that. The fiscally conservative Senator each year produces his Wastebook which lists things he deems government waste. We’ve covered this for the last two years as he listed the charitable organization the 501st Legion and this year numerous geeky things like video games and tie-ins to the Man of Steel.
In 2012, the Senator listed the 501st Legion as part of his Wastebook due to $365 of federal funds paid out to the organization for an event. That event was held by a Massachusetts library to get children excited about reading and learning. The Senator seemed to incorrectly think the charity organization somehow gets paid by Lucasfilm, ignoring the fact that its average citizens getting together to do good things.
For his 2013 Wastebook, Coburn took on video games, toy museums, superheroes and the Man of Steel. I’m sure that was the edition that certified that Coburn wanted to stamp out all fun.
The Senator did reveal health issues recently and we wish him good health in his retirement. But, the geek world can rest a little bit better due to it.