Category Archives: Popular Culture

The Name is Lieber – Stanley Lieber

Stan_Lee_convention_photo_comic_con This is one of those times in life where we have the death of someone many recognized as a cultural icon. A creative talent who has launched an era of fictional characters in graphic art, that has developed into huge movie entertainment.

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Author ~ copyright owner
Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber, on December 28, 1922 in New York City from Romanian-born Jewish immigrant parents. Lee had one younger brother, Larry Lieber born October 26, 1931.

“I grew up in New York City during the Depression. My earliest recollections were of my parents talking about what they would do if they didn’t have the rent money. Luckily, we were never evicted. But my father was unemployed most of the time.”

Most of us that knew anything about Stan Lee, learned it from the emerging array of super hero comic books, primarily created in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, from the collaborative efforts of Stan Lee, his brother Martin, and some of the soon to become well known names of graphic artists from that period. A list of collaborators include the following:

Jack Kirby
Steve Ditko
John Romita Sr.
Don Heck
Bill Everett
Joe Maneely

Marvel branding began in 1961, the year that the company launched The Fantastic Four, with other comic hero titles soon to follow.

The comic books looked much like other published graphic art from that period, but the contents, especially the characters, were very much like average people. It’s rival, DC Comics, a much larger publisher at that time, kept their characters in a different less relatable world. Communism wasn’t mentioned, and international conflicts were kept to a minimum. Sure, they had plenty of aliens, and fiends, but the individuals described in Marvel showed you their flaws, and emotions, and Communism. This caught the attention of young, as well as many college aged readers.

Stan_Lee_in_front_of_his_creations_70sStan Lee, was a classic liberal in the sense that he understood what it was like to be downtrodden, maligned, have personal problems, but all the while possessing a moral compass. He wasn’t afraid of tackling the larger social issues, including drugs, violence and racism. I think this statement, written about 50 years ago, is at the heart of what made Marvel Comics, more than just graphic art entertainment with simple stories. He posted his own readership columns in the back of the comics, which gave us insight as to who he was as a person.

Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them—to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater—one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen—people he’s never known—with equal intensity—with equal venom.

Now, we’re not trying to say it’s unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race—to despise an entire nation—to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill out hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God–a God who calls us ALL—His children. ~ Stan Lee

Stan Lee’s characters had feet of clay, his characters were sometimes created from ancient mythic deities, but they too weren’t infallible. Despite the many villains, and dire situations, a common decency existed among his created heroes. Sometimes, even the bad guys & gals, weren’t so bad either.

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Spider-man Created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

One of his famous comic character quotations ⋅⋅⋅  “With great ººpower comes great responsibility” ⋅⋅⋅ It has a simple meaning; if you have the ability to do something, make sure that you do it for the good of others.

Charitable Foundation
The Stan Lee Foundation was founded in 2010 to focus on literacy, education, and the arts. Its stated goals include supporting programs and ideas that improve access to literacy resources, as well as promoting diversity, national literacy, culture and the arts.

StanThe ManLee [ December 28, 1922 – November 12, 2018 ] He will be missed.

Ownership & Trademark credits

Parent company Marvel Entertainment, LLC
The Walt Disney Company©
All rights of ownership to characters & images ™ belong to them.

Rewriting History to Fit Your Ideology

The Suffocation of Democracy

I read a preliminary description of a book as this author has written. I have to wonder, how can he refer to himself as a historian? This book is nothing more than his distorted view of history to fit his politics. Imagine how this would read if the author actually gave a factual explanation of history instead of as a means to bash individuals or political party? I was unable to find this book on Amazon.

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When I listen, read or watch someone compare the current political climate in the USA to Nazi Germany, this is when almost all credibility of an individual is lost. Plain and simple, we are not living in a fascist state, nor are we in any immediate danger of that being introduced, not from the Trump administration or the current crop of Congressional GOP. To make such a claim is either incredibly naïve or highly motivated deceptive political misappropriation. In fact I’m amazed this person refers to himself as a historian. Hysterical yes, historian no.

The author’s references and description of current USA politics with respect to Nazi Germany is fallacious. The author claims that United States isolationism of the 1920’s & ’30’s can be compared to conservatism today.

Our current Congress and President has nothing in common with Nazi Germany and Hitler. Making these assertions as if they’re facts isn’t harmful, but taken collectively, incite destructive emotional behavior and a disconnect from reality.

Hitlers-manifest-ramblingsIt’s another attempt to tabulate and correlate all of the popular political prejudices. It plays to an audience, like Hitler did in his speeches, with a lack of historical depth to document his incredibly naïve or misleading suppositions.

History is complicated and a detailed topic. I dislike the use of it to portray events and people with incorrect information in order to claim special insight. This author’s technique isn’t unusual, I’ve seen other people take advantage of the lack of knowledge of most people and infuse it with their offbeat pronouncements or comparisons.

The 20th century was one of the worst centuries in recorded history. Scarred by two global conflicts, many violent regime changes, and the displacement of millions of refugees, it was rife with villainy and intrigue. No era, or major human endeavor operates in isolation. In order to dispel some of the myths which this author, Christopher R. Browning begins to weave, I will attempt to explain topics which need much more depth than many will care to read. I’m not going to bother tackling his anti-Trump, anti-GOP, anti-Mitch McConnell statements. To do so really does nothing to get at the core of his writing, and almost anyone that reads this has their mind made up about the GOP and Trump, anyways.

Let’s examine the United States historical position on isolationism. This alone is a huge topic, because much of the stage was set from our previous conflicts, the Civil War, Spanish American War, and World War I. 

The United States has been involved with one war or another since its inception. The Civil War was an unavoidable, bloody conflict, leaving the worst human losses for our country to date. I’m not going to spend time on it’s cause or reasons, just know that many older people, including veterans were still living well into the first two decades of the twentieth century. That left an indelible memory for all those who lived through it.

In the closing period of the 19th century we had the brief Spanish American War. That’s one of those conflicts that should have been avoided, but it gave the US some of that false bravado we liked to get caught up in.  World War I wasn’t anything like the quick and relatively bloodless Spanish American War. The European war started 3 years before we decided to enter it. From our involvement, we gained a taste of what a world wide conflict could begin to look like, and there were a lot of men that came back from that war damaged physically and mentally.

As a response to the horrors of WWI, and the distant memories of the Civil War, many people in the US wanted nothing to do with the insanity of future international conflicts. Japan was soon engaged in their territorial scuffles, and Spain was in full scale revolt in the ’30’s. We had just put behind us, our memories of the conflict with Spain, and here they were, fighting among themselves, which potentially could start another European war. Germany was using this opportunity to perfect tactics they would use in a few more years in eastern Europe. We wanted nothing to do with another war. So, isolationism was the prevalent disposition in Washington.

Trying to discuss 20th century trade wars, and place them in context with current policies isn’t relevant. What was important, and set the stage for the world wide depression in the late 1920’s and 1930’s is where politics and economics came together and added fuel to the hate cauldron of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler was the perfect scoundrel to take advantage and replace a broken democratic republic with a fascist regime.

For reasons he doesn’t indicate in this write up (click on link at top of this post for reference), we might see some form of totalitarianism in this country if we continue to add annual deficits. The financial disarray is only part of the conditions which beleaguered post WWI Nazi Germany. 

Hitler achieved power and control for several reasons. If you wish to make comparisons to contemporary USA, you would have to understand the vast differences, as well.

1 – Germany was in financial ruin from World War I. The repayments demanded of it through the League of Nations, Treaty of Versailles, plus their own inability to recover through their own initiatives signaled their downward spiral. They diluted the currency, and ended up with hyper inflation. “Quantitative easing” is a favored technique of our central bank and endorsed by elected officials.

Their, “economic easing” began with more Reich Marks put into circulation. This came to a horrible end, as all of these inflationary death spirals do, hastened by over speculation and a collapse in trust of the currency. People were literally using wheel barrows filled with currency to buy bread.

2 – From the ashes of crisis the “savior arises”. As many times as these comparisons emerge, Trump and Hitler are not even close to the same person. So, if you can’t or won’t see the obvious differences, then no amount of reading or reasoning will work for you, and I’m truly sorry. For the rest of those who care to read on… Adolf Hitler came from a broken home. Never really became educated, and usually never finished what he started. He failed at labor, no craftsmanship. He had limited artistic skills, and he seemed to even have problems with obtaining and sustaining male & female relationships. In short, he was a born loser. For all you Trump haters out there, and those of you who want to believe the lopsided view of his business skills or his male & female relationships, he’s really a polar opposite of Hitler. Then, because conditions were just right, Hitler became a phoenix. Germany was a proud state, still had many veterans who believed their country sold them out. Many believed in the myth that the only reasons they lost WWI was due to their political leadership giving in to the people who wanted peace. Adolf_Hitler_politician_1921

3 – This is where we are much different in the USA from Germany in the 1920’s & 30’s. The country was broke, both in spirit and in economics.

Hitler’s behavior was closer to what we see from Antifa, or these other groups protesting with vagina hats. Crazy, rabble rousing behavior. Speaking at first to anyone who would listen in bars. He eventually caught the eye of another dysfunctional but wealthier and more influential man.

Hitler joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, later known as the Nazi Party. This political party was formed and developed during the post-World War I era.

It, along with Hitler rose to power very slowly at first throughout the 1920’s. Hitler was even arrested and imprisoned for his participation in a failed coup. The Germany of 1930’s was in a huge mess, and the vacuum of power permitted the Nazi’s to become participants in the national government. It’s difficult for anyone to watch him now, in those old propaganda films, but Hitler was considered a great orator. He knew how to wow the crowd. Yes, Trump has the ability to communicate, but he’s not in the league of spell binding speeches which Adolf Hitler could muster. Adolf_Hitler_Paris_1940

4 – Identify scape goats or shift the blame. Current politics in the US is in a free fall. There’s a definite crisis of leadership. I recognized it and saw it in the 2016 election process. If you’re honest, you should have seen both parties brought forth two candidates who for different reasons, should never have been the top of their party’s ticket. Well, that election happened, and despite the constant outcry from the die-hard Democrats, it’s over. They can look forward to midterms and 2020. Each party is blaming the other, and neither is acting in any mode other than trying to make the other team look bad and themselves look good. 

None the less this is not Germany in 1933 & ‘34. When Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933, his rise to the top was meteoric. The Enabling Act passed in March 1933 gave Hitler total authority, and thereafter constitutionally exercise dictatorial power without legal objection. He had ultimate executive authority, because of their crisis. This is when and where you can see anyone who isn’t playing dirty with the facts and fails to realize the greater danger in that behavior was on full display with the previous Democrat administration. Here’s what one of them said to his President,

You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

Rahm Emanuel

President_Trump_podiumLet that sink in for a moment. While you want to think about ways the third Reich and the GOP are similar, may I suggest you do a lot more reading and consider for a moment that where we are now, isn’t anywhere near to Germany of the 1920’s or ‘30’s. We might find ourselves there at some unpredictable date in the future because of our fiscal irresponsibility. We’re just not there now. We don’t have Brown Shirts (look them up), we don’t have the SS, nor do we have a government as shady as what once was the Clinton administration.

References:

Some are Optimistic – Sadly I’m Not

We may lament the lack of civility and the ability to find common ground. The last few weeks crystallized just how insane people can become over their ideology, as shown during the Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court nomination hearings.
 
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Brett Kavanaugh at swearing-in ceremony with President Donald Trump

I was all set to ignore another appointment to the Supreme Court. After all, none of us vote the person in, and we’ve seen both Democrats & Republicans pick their own. We used to even see some bi-partisanship in the nomination process.

Not this time however, I can’t recall a process that became so partisan and bitter, even with Clarence Thomas. I believe there’s nothing any of us could do to alter those events, but we did have the option of expressing our opinions and what damages we could do to each other throughout this period.
 
I finally shutdown some of the more obnoxious Facebook posters, who were linked as friends. I don’t mind people with a different opinion, but some completely crossed the line of rationality. As a famous line was expressed by Danny Glover in the movie, Lethal Weapon, “I’m getting too old for this sh1+”.
 
Robert Redford recently expressed his opinion on this same topic:I Feel Out of Place in the Country I Was Born Into
 
Here’s his full statement:
 
“Tonight, for the first time I can remember, I feel out of place in the country I was born into and the citizenship I’ve loved my whole life. For weeks I’ve watched with sadness as our civil servants have failed us, turning toward bigotry, mean-spiritedness, and mockery as the now-normal tools of the trade.”
 
“How can we expect the next generation to step up and serve, to be interested in public life, and to aspire to get involved when all we show them is how to spar, attack, and destroy each other?”
 
“It’s hard to blame young people for calling us out, and pointing to our conflicts between the values we declare, and those we stand behind only when it’s convenient to partisanship. Many people are rightly calling it a damn mess.”
 
“But I want to encourage you to dig deep for hope and civility right now—to try to make connections with people you disagree with, to be better than our politicians.”
 
“We don’t have to share the same motivations to want the same outcomes. Let’s focus on each other, and strengthening our communities, and reflecting on what’s happening. Let’s live in justice and respect and let others fight it out now to the bitter ends.”
 
“This is our country too. Every woman, man, and child in it, our American future.”
 
“We’ve got work to do.”

The madness continues

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Women dressed as handmaids in protest – CNN photo 9/14/2018

Rosemount educator on leave after tweeting ‘kill Kavanaugh

Google exec has meltdown on Twitter, blasts GOP over Kavanaugh nomination
~  “F–K. YOU. ALL. TO. HELL,” wrote Dave Hogue Saturday

Antifa Takes Over Portland Traffic, Chases Down And Threatens Elderly Driver
~You’re a whitey, aren’t ya! Get the f*** down the road!

Kelly Paul, wife of Senator Rand Paul ~ “It’s bizarre. I’ve never been like this in my whole life. … We used to never even lock our doors, and now that has all changed. Even going out to dinner in D.C., last night, you worry. You hope that people aren’t going to come up and just start screaming at you.”

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Kavanaugh protestors continue – AP photo 10/9/2018