Monthly Archives: November 2018

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

ThanksgivingWe’re not doing much for Thanksgiving this year. I simply cooked two side-dishes yesterday. And most of today, I will be working. So I thought I would present a few interesting holiday things:

Woody Allen Jesus

I haven’t checked in recently with Tim Minchin. Truthfully, a little of him goes a long way. But he’s still good. Derren Brown is a mentalist/magician. I figured you would want to know. I figure you know who Simon Pegg is.

The Komodo Dragon

Almost no one finds Bob & Ray as funny as I do. But they are wrong.

The Lost Plague

This is a good video by CGP Grey. I can’t help but think of all the deadly diseases that the Europeans brought to America when the subject of Thanksgiving comes up. When I was a kid, in as much as it was talked about, the destruction of native peoples was always told as one of differing technologies. Of course, that was always nonsense. Guns at that time were not that useful. But given that Europeans had become used to living in filth, they could blithely wage germ warfare and convince themselves they were really badasses.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have to get back to work. I hope you have a good Thanksgiving. If you want, you can read my 3,700-word Thanksgiving Round-Up. I’m not recommending.

The Comics Code’s Target: EC Comics

Incredible Science Fiction #33William Gaines was the publisher of EC Comics — the only comic book in the 1950s that I liked. (I’m not that old; in the late-1970s, the comics were reprinted and better than any of the mainstream comics of the day.)

As we face every generation, there was outrage over how comics in general and EC, in particular, were “destroying the youth of today. You would think we would learn but we never do. There are always people of a conservative bent (I’m not particularly talking about politics here, but these do tend to be politically conservative) who think that because they don’t like something it must be stopped — usually in the name of protecting “the children.”

Juvenile Delinquency!

At the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency hearing (1954), Gaines’ opening statement was:

Entertaining reading has never harmed anyone. Men of good will, free men, should be very grateful for one sentence in the statement made by Federal Judge John M Woolsey when he lifted the ban on Ulysses. Judge Woolsey said, “It is only with the normal person that the law is concerned.” May I repeat, he said, “It is only with the normal person that the law is concerned.” Our American children are, for the most part, normal children. They are bright children, but those who want to prohibit comic magazines seem to see dirty, sneaky, perverted monsters who use the comics as a blueprint for action. Perverted little monsters are few and far between. They don’t read comics. The chances are most of them are in schools for retarded children.

What are we afraid of? Are we afraid of our own children? Do we forget that they are citizens, too, and entitled to select what to read or do? Do we think our children are so evil, so simple-minded, that it takes a story of murder to set them to murder, a story of robbery to set them to robbery? Jimmy Walker once remarked that he never knew a girl to be ruined by a book. Nobody has ever been ruined by a comic.

The Comics Code

The Comics Code Authority (CCA), which Gaines had the original idea for, would be taken over by conservatives who would do more than just censored basically anything worth reading. At least once the CCA tried to censor an EC title for a purely racist reason. Eventually published as Incredible Science Fiction #33, it was about an astronaut who visits a planet that is home to two “races.” At the end of the story, the astronaut decides that the planet won’t be entered into the federation type organization that he represents because of the planet’s racism. Then he takes off his helmet to reveal that he is black.

It was only allowed to be published because Gaines threatened to go public with the information that the administrator of the Comics Code, 40-year-old Charles Murphy, was a bigot. It was published Feb 1956. Sadly, it was the last comic that EC published.

Note how crazy this is! The elite, white, self-appointed defenders of morality weren’t concerned about the explicit racism and terrorism against African Americans. They were worried about comic books destroying Jack and Jill. And those comic books were my first introduction to Edgar Allan Poe, H P Lovecraft, and even Oscar Wilde (although not directly).

The only title that lived on was Mad. But it was converted to a magazine to remove it from the strictures of the CCA. That’s right: even Mad Magazine was too much for these Very Concerned Citizens.

The CCA Gets “Liberal”

Over time, of course, the Comics Code updated what was acceptable in comic books. I remember a full-page image in one Marvel title from around 1976 that was truly destressing. It was the picture of a man who was in a motorcycle accident and slid 50 feet on his face.

The fact that they had to do that shows that none of this was ever about protecting kids or any concern about morality.

Indeed, the reason the Code changed over time was to maintain its power. So it came as no surprise in early 2011, it died when even Archie Comics stopped using the Code. Of course, it had been decades since it had been relevant anyway.

Target: the Most Edifying Comic Books of the 1950s

The truth is that the purpose of the CCA was always singular and short-term: to put EC Comics out of business. Sure, there were other publishers that the Titans of Morality hated. And obviously, removing people of color and sexy women was great. But that was all icing. Making an example out of Gaines was always its purpose.

But these kinds of people never go away. It’s impossible for them to learn. Indeed, if they got their way and moved society back to 1980, they would immediately start working to set it back to 1940. And so on. That’s because they have an insatiable need to control others. It isn’t enough for them to live by their own morality. They have to push it on others.

Of course, the racist Charles Murphy and the CCA are dead. Meanwhile, those old EC Comics are as good as ever.

2018 Is Not 1982

Ronald ReaganEd Kilgore recently wrote an unfortunate article, Democrats’ 1982 Midterm Gains Looked a Lot Like 2018’s. Then Reagan Was Reelected in a Landslide.

I understand that Kilgore’s intent was positive: he is worried that Democrats are over-confident about taking the White House back in 2020. But there are ways to do this that don’t distort what we know about political science.

Facile Logic

The article is filled with facile comparisons of Trump and Ronald Reagan. For example:

“Democrats picked up 26 House seats, which was pretty impressive because they held 243 going into the election (they won 55 percent of the national House popular vote). They also gained seven net governorships, precisely the number won in 2018.”

Oh my! I guess I should go drown myself instead of face the prospect of Trump being a two-term president!

Reagan and Trump Coincidences

Some other amazing coincidences:

Trump’s Approval Wasn’t the Same as Reagan’s

Okay, most of Kilgore’s coincidences aren’t quite so facile. But they aren’t that much better. And in at least one case, he’s simply wrong: Trump has the same approval rating now as Reagan did at this time: 43 percent. To start with, he’s wrong on the numbers:

  1. First, according to Pew, the polling average so far this year is less than 41 percent. And the yearly average is only 38 percent. Where Kilgore is getting his numbers is unclear.
  2. What’s more, the most correct number for Reagan would be 44 percent, not 43 percent.
  3. So Reagan was beating Trump by 6 percentage points.

But the numbers don’t even matter because Kilgore does not put these numbers in context. When Reagan saw these terrible numbers, the unemployment rate was 10.8 percent! Additionally, the unemployment trend was horrible: it was only 6.3 percent when Reagan entered office. This completely explains why Reagan was so unpopular in 1982.

Things couldn’t be more different for Trump. The unemployment rate went from 4.9 percent when he entered office to 3.7 currently. Yet despite these good economic numbers, Trump is distinctly less popular than Reagan.

But Kilgore just throws up two (incorrect) numbers and provides no context.

Trump Could Very Well Win in 2020

Don’t get me wrong: over the last two years, a lot of liberals have indicated that 2020 will be an easy election for the Democrats. And I always tell them the same thing: if the economy is still growing, Trump will win.

Note that my simple presidential election model predicted that Trump would win the election in 2016 by a very small margin. And it will predict that he wins re-election depending upon the employment numbers in the first 9 months of 2020.

But there are a couple of things that make me think he will not win re-election.

The first is that Trump did far worse than the economic numbers would indicate. Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes when Trump should have won it by a small amount.

The second is that the economy is at as good a place as the Federal Reserve will allow. Trump’s only real hope is that there is a quick downturn and recovery. It certainly could happen. But if I were a betting man, I’d go with the Democrats.

Summary

The last thing I want to see is the Democrats getting complacent. It was tragic that after Obama became president, the base dropped the ball. Even worse: so did Obama. And in 2016, if all those Jill Stein voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio had voted for Clinton, the Democrats would contract the White House — and the Supreme Court for a generation.

The Democrats need to fight hard in every election. 2018 showed how important this is.

But the 2020 election will not depend upon this year’s results. And the comparison with Ronald Reagan in 1982 is meaningless.

How to Vote: November 2018

I’ve been meaning to write this for weeks. In some ways, it is hard to get too excited about, however. I can go through the propositions in July and tell you which good ones that are polling well will go down in flames because all the money spent on them.

Prop 10

This year, the primary example of this in Proposition 10.

The interesting thing about 10 is that it didn’t actually need much spending to be killed. The truth is that our “liberal” Californians are very much like our Silicon Valley plutocrats: they are all for liberal causes as long as it doesn’t require even the smallest personal sacrifice.

And the amazing thing is that Prop 10 doesn’t even do much. All it does is allow local governments to enact rent control if they want to. Currently, local governments are greatly limited regarding how much they can do to keep rents low.

Now, on one level, I’m not that keen on local control. As we have seen over and over, it is usually local governments that are most corrupt and evil. So I always had a small reservation about Prop 10. But I find it annoying that all the “local government is best” conservatives out there are voting against it. Remember: it doesn’t enact rent control; it only makes it available.

Other Stuff

Some propositions each year confuse me greatly. That was the case with Proposition 12. It sets how large a farm animal’s pen must be. I am voting for it. But both sides of 12 claim to be the real defenders of animals. And listening to them go back and forth makes my head spin.

One really good thing this year is that Kevin de Leon is running for US Senator against Dianne Feinstein. I know that she is going to win (although that itself is an indictment of our political system). But it is nice to have someone else to vote for. Feinstein’s sell-by date is about a decade old.

Votes

I am afraid this list is not very interesting. This is how a hard-core Democrat would vote. But that should surprise no one.

  • Prop 1: yes
  • Prop 2: yes
  • Prop 3: yes
  • Prop 4: yes
  • Prop 5: no
  • Prop 6: no
  • Prop 7: yes
  • Prop 8: yes
  • Prop 10: yes
  • Prop 11: no
  • Prop 12: yes
  • US Senate: Kevin de Leon
  • Representative (5): Mike Thompson
  • Governor: Gavin Newson
  • Lieutenant Governor: Ed Hernandez
  • Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
  • Controller: Betty Yee
  • Treasurer: Fiona Ma
  • Attorney General: Xavier Becerra
  • Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond

But just make sure you vote! Also: it’s important that Tony Thurmond win because that means Marshall Tuck will lose.