« June 2006 | Main | August 2006 »

July 31, 2006

I'm still right about Rudy

As regular readers know, one of my white whales is the off-parroted, simplistic "conventional wisdom" that Rudy Giuliani can't win the Republican nomination because he's a "social liberal." Well, I've been too busy to blog about it for the past few days, but I recently got a few new harpoons for my... harpoon thing, courtesy of Ryan Sager. Check out these numbers.

[T]he polls show that Rudy is the favorite not just of Republicans, but of conservatives. And my recent conversations -- on and off the record -- with state-level GOP activists shows that these folks range from enthusiastic to at least open to America's Mayor making a run for the Oval Office.

Start with the polls:

  • Just last week, Gallup released a poll showing that four out of 10 Republicans consider "front-runner" McCain to be an "unacceptable" candidate. And he does worst with self-described conservatives, half of whom deem him unacceptable. But 73 percent of Republicans call Rudy "acceptable."

    Meanwhile, another recent Gallup poll found that 29 percent of registered Republicans prefer Giuliani for the 2008 nomination, versus 24 percent who prefer McCain.

  • But Rudy's got a problem in the South, right? Wrong. At least not in Georgia or Florida, according to work by Strategic Vision, a GOP polling firm not affiliated with any '08 campaign. In Florida, Rudy led McCain 39 percent to 28 percent in a June poll. In Georgia, Rudy leads 27 percent to 22 percent.

  • But McCain would trounce Rudy in those states if people knew about his positions on abortion and gay rights (and his marital history), right? Wrong again. Strategic Vision CEO David Johnson told me of some "push polling" in Florida and Georgia - where his firm told voters about Rudy's positions and marital problems and about McCain's support for campaign-finance reform and working with Democrats against President Bush.

    The effect on Rudy's numbers, Johnson said, "underwhelmed" his expectations significantly, merely putting the two candidates into a statistical dead heat - not launching the more conventionally conservative (at least on issues like abortion) McCain into the lead. "Some people who identify themselves as strong conservatives, even when we did do the push-poll questions in Georgia and Florida, were still more willing to go with Giuliani," Johnson said. "Strong, Christian conservatives."

  • Same story nationwide: In the Quinnipiac thermometer poll released last month, which asked registered voters to rate their feelings about politicians on a scale of 0-100, Rudy came out as the most popular politician in America among Evangelicals - with a rating of 66, against McCain's 57 and George W. Bush's 60.

  • What about McCain's "crossover appeal"? Isn't he a better shot against Hillary? Nope. Pretty much every poll taken on the matter shows Rudy beating Sen. Clinton by a much bigger margin than McCain would. In May, a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll showed Rudy with a nationwide nine-point lead over her; McCain, only a statistically insignificant 4 points. (And, in "blue" New York, where both Rudy and Hillary are known best, McCain loses to Hillary, as expected, while Rudy beats her in one of the most liberal states in the country - a state with 31 electoral votes.)

There are no guarantees, of course, but a Rudy nomination is definitely well within the realm of possibility. In fact, Sager goes even further -- he proclaims Giuliani the current front-runner.

The International Community and Israel

Couldn't you just imagine a phone conversation between Jacques Chirac and Ehud Olmert that sounded something like this?

Chirac: Prime Minister Olmert? We want you to stop this disproportionate act of aggression at once. We want you to withdraw your troops from southern Lebanon, and we'll replace them with an international "peace keeping" force.
Olmert: With all due respect, Mr. President, this sounds a bit like déjà vu all over again.
Chirac: How do you mean?
Olmert: Well, we bowed to international pressure and withdrew our troops from Lebanon back in 2000. Then, as part of a deal that you yourself helped broker, the U.N. was to disarm Hezbollah so that it no longer would be a threat to Israel. We kept our side of the bargain, but the U.N. and the "international community" dropped the ball on theirs, and as a result the task of disarming Hezbollah has fallen in our own lap.
Chirac: All right, well say, how 'bout a second chance there? Had we known it would work out this way, we certainly would have made defanging Hezbollah a higher priority. Let us have a do-over. Bring your troops home and let the international force take over.
Olmert: Okay, fine. So when will your troops arrive?
Chirac: Our... troops?
Olmert: Yes, the international force you want in place to provide a buffer zone on or northern border. When will you be deploying your contingent of troops?
Chirac: Okay, see, when we say international force, we weren't really thinking of French troops, per se? We had in mind something more like poorly trained Bangladeshi mercenaries, who would wear blue helmets, rape young Lebanese girls, and stand idly by while Hezbollah kidnaps more Israelis.
Olmert: Let me get back to you on that.

July 29, 2006


Oh, please please please let the 2008 presidential elections come down to a race between these two.

Two summers ago, on a Congressional trip to Estonia, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton astonished her traveling companions by suggesting that the group do what one does in the Baltics: hold a vodka-drinking contest.

Delighted, the leader of the delegation, Senator John McCain, quickly agreed. The after-dinner drinks went so well -- memories are a bit hazy on who drank how much -- that Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican, later told people how unexpectedly engaging he found Mrs. Clinton to be. “One of the guys” was the way he described Mrs. Clinton, a New York Democrat, to some Republican colleagues.

July 28, 2006

A telling poll

Rasmussen's tracking poll for Bush's approval rating has recently shown Bush slowly clawing his way back out of the abyss. It was, that is, until Bush inaugurated his veto pen on the embryonic stem cell bill. There's a sharp, undeniable break downwards. Check it out.

July 27, 2006

My hat's off...

...to Senator Norm Coleman's dad, who, at the age of 81, is apparently still capable of gettin' it on with a 38-year-old.

July 21, 2006

Adventures in dog-sitting

A friend of mine went on a short vacation, and I'm babysitting his dog -- a 250-pound mastiff named Moses, whom I believe is the biggest dog I've ever seen -- or heard of. I shit you not. Here's a picture of Moses in my back yard, standing next to my full-grown black lab, Zora.

Questions about Lieberman

First of all, let me say that I don't really have a dog in the Lamont/Lieberman race. I watched most of the debate, and I preferred Lieberman's views of foreign policy, but was appalled by his comments regarding earmarks (and by the way, isn't that sentence emblematic of the whole race? Lieberman defines the entire contest. Lieberman is Lieberman, while poor Ned Lamont is merely the not-Lieberman.) In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I have a case of beer riding on Lieberman, but beyond that, I don't really care.

It is a fantastic spectator sport, however. I'm completely bemused that so many Democrats, with the (realistic) hope of winning at least one house of Congress clearly in sight, are spending so much energy and effort to defeat one of their own in a safe seat in a blue state.

That just fascinates me. I mean, after all, Joe Lieberman might not be Barbara Boxer, but he's not exactly Zell Miller either. Much of the campaign against him has been to tie him to Bush's policies. That's understandable, as far as it goes, but Lieberman is hardly the biggest pro-Bush Democrat in the Senate.

Just to pick one example, let me ask a question. Is there one, single, substantive issue on which Lieberman sided with Bush that (say) Hillary Clinton didn't also side with Bush? Senator Clinton, it should be noted, is also up for reelection this year, but has not come under similar attack from Democratic activists? Why is that?

July 20, 2006

Now it's official

All right, it's finally happened. I now officially regret having voted for George W. Bush in 2004. Part of me always knew this day would come, but I couldn't predict exactly what would push me over the edge. History will record that the final straw for me was his veto of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

I could forgive this veto if it weren't so unprecedented. If Bush routinely (or even ever) vetoed bills to which he objected, I would simply shrug and observe that this was yet another issue on which the president and I disagree. But the fact that he chose to exercise this presidential prerogative for the very first time in his six years in office makes this decision unconscionable.

I could also forgive this veto if Bush had given me more to weigh in the balance on his behalf. Had he campaigned tirelessly to control federal spending, this would not be a big deal to me. Had he fought long and hard for school vouchers, I would look the other way. Had he appointed Janice Rogers Brown to the Supreme Court, he would have earned my undying gratitude, win or lose. Had he demonstrated the commitment to win in Iraq by committing the resources necessary to do so after his initial miscalculation, he would have earned the benefit of a doubt.

I'm not saying it's the biggest cock-up of his career, but it does make me wish I'd voted for Badnarik. And yes, I understand perfectly well that there is a libertarian case to be made against federal funding for ESC research -- but no one is making that case! And if Bush were to try to sound like Ayn Rand on the issue of stem cells, it would easily rank among the most disingenuous and self-serving political hypocrisies of our age.

In short, we all have our limits, and I've just reached mine. Everyone has a point beyond which they're unwilling to go, and I've reached mine with Bush. I regret voting for him as surely as I regret the last time I voted for a major-party presidential candidate -- his father, back in 1988.

But for my liberal and Democratic readers, however, I'd like to point out something for the record. Regretting my Bush vote is not tantamount to wishing I'd voted for John Kerry. That would just be plain silly.


I hate when I do stupid stuff. Fortunately it only happens a few times a day.

July 18, 2006

Red state Rudy

Not to flog a dead horse or anything, but the conventional wisdom about Rudy Guiliani continues to be wrong. His critics dismiss his (likely) candidacy with the following simplistic mantra: social conservatives in the red states will never nominate a pro-choice, pro-gay canditate. He is anathema to the Republican base.

As I've been saying almsot since the inception of this blog, these people are quite simply wrong. I know the Republican "base" in red America a helluva lot better than they do, and it happens to contain a lot of guys like this:

Rudy's record on abortion isn't just bad. Rudy's record is apocalyptic. Rudy makes Romney look like Pat Robertson. He is so far to the left on abortion he could probably compete for NARAL's endorsement against Hillary in 2008, and win it.
And yet? I love the guy. God help me I do think the world of Rudy Giuliani. And it all has to do with 9-11. You see, I live in New York City. I stood on Broadway when the Twin Towers were struck and saw them collapse with my own eyes. I saw crowds of people running up Broadway to get away from ground zero while giant clouds of debris from the collapsing towers rushed up between the skyscrapers and engulfed them all leaving everyone covered in soot and ashes. I watched as people stumbled through the streets absolutely crushed. In that hour telephones ceased to work and traffic was at a standstill. All you could do was go somewhere to watch television to find out what was going on. And there was Rudy Giuliani. Steadfast. Strong. Resolute. Churchillian in his rhetoric.

Any candidate remains a long shot this early in the game, of course, but those who are already writing Giuliani off are making a grave mistake.

(Hat tip: Dean)

July 17, 2006

Comments fixed

Okay, that was really weird. The problem with comments on this site has been resolved, for now. The nature of the problem was bizarre, and appears malicious. I'll keep you posted if I find out what happened.


This one's a keeper, folks. It's Atrios ragging on Bush for (are you ready for this?) swearing.

This is cool

My favorite writer and childhood friend is now blogging.

A depressing question

I wonder what date future historians will cite as the beginning of World War III? For my part, I began thinking about it as such back as early as 2002, but I seem to have a lot more company now.

July 14, 2006

Last word

All right, one more thing before I leave for the weekend. Go here for the last word on the Wilson/Plame lawsuit.

Programming note

This site will probably be quiet for the next few days, since I'm leaving for a weekend trip to one of the reddest of the red states. No, I'm not returning to my native South, but rather flying to Omaha, home of terrific steaks and horrific weather, and historically famous as the place where inheritance tax proponent Warren Buffett sheltered his billions from the inheritance tax.

I'll be back on Monday, if planes can fly in that heat.

Friday trivia quiz

Q: How does the U.N. determine when to call for a ceasefire?

A: When Israel starts shooting back.

Headline of the day

Well, that's reassuring... I guess.


If you live outside the greater NYC area, you probably have no idea what this is about. Well, the gist of it is this:

The race to fill Rep. Major Owens' 11th District seat has been overshadowed by efforts by some black leaders to oppose the candidacy of Councilman David Yassky, who is white.

But a Quinnipiac poll of voters across the city shows that 61 percent don't think Yassky should be discouraged from running just because he is white.

Perhaps it's impolitic to ask too many questions regarding the remaining 39%. Perhaps this is one of those instances in which we should simply process the headline and leave it at that.

July 13, 2006

McCain and guns

I've been a McCainiac for some time now, but one of my biggest concerns has been that he might be a bit too squishy on Second Amendment issues. That's what's great about Glenn and Helen -- they're willing to ask the dude point-blank whether he's a gun wuss or not. I found his answers reassuring. Specifically, he said without hesitation that he'd support a Senate bill to prevent the kind of systematic gun confiscation we saw in post-Katrina New Orleans.

The whole interview is actually quite good. It reminded me of why I like the guy. He's sharp, witty, and forthright, and there's a lot of good stuff here for disaffected fiscal conservatives like myself. Give it a listen.

Just for the record...

...I don't have anything meaningful to say about the escalating violence in the Middle East. I'm concerned like everyone else, but I won't sit in judgment of Israel for her actions. There is a limit to what one people can be asked to endure.


Why are news stories like this one never accompanied by photographs?

A chicken in a Kazakh village has laid an egg with the word "Allah" inscribed on its shell, state media reported Thursday.

"Our mosque confirmed that it says 'Allah' in Arabic," Bites Amantayeva, a farmer from the village of Stepnoi in eastern Kazakhstan, told state news agency Kazinform.

"We'll keep this egg and we don't think it'll go bad."

(Compare this and this.)

July 12, 2006

More "Castro is dead" rumors

Jonah Goldberg started it this time. This rumor, a perennial favorite, makes its rounds frequently. One day, of course, it will be true. I'm not buying it this time, however. I live in a very Cuban community, and I believe if there were any truth to it, my neighborhood would look like the streets of Rome after the World Cup win.

July 11, 2006

Kos and Ann Coulter want you to read this site

Heh, I'm not proud.

Can a cheap headline featuring hot-button words "Kos" and "Coulter" goose a blogger's hit count? The stats are in and the answer is ... unfortunately ... yes. ...

I wonder what Kos would think of that? Or Coulter?

The India bombings

I haven't mentioned this yet because at times like this I don't know what the hell to say. And even if I did, this dumb-ass blog doesn't even seem like the appropriate vehicle for it.

But that's okay. My friend and fellow Jerseyite DBK, with whom I often disagree but always respect, has said everything that need be said.

It's a terrible tragedy that reminds us of all the similar terrible tragedies. We may disagree on the way in which to destroy the people and organizations that commit these horrendous murders, but there is no disagreement among good people when it comes to this: the people and organizations that commit such horrendous acts must be destroyed.

Amen, my friend.

July 09, 2006

Ha ha

The French can't even win at a wuss sport.

Rudy watch

Bob Novak seems convinced Rudy's running, and observes that America's Mayor is still kicking ass in GOP preference polls. He does, however, echo some of the conventional wisdom regarding Rudy's social liberalism.

Republican insiders respond to these numbers by saying rank-and-file GOP voters will abandon Giuliani once they realize his position on abortion, gay rights and gun control. Party strategists calculate that if he actually runs, he must change on at least one of these issues.

Here's hoping it's gun control! That would, in my opinion, make Giuliani very nearly the ideal candidate. I'd never use the term "libertarian" to describe Rudy, but his combination of social liberalism with genuine fiscal conservatism makes him a very attractive, and rare, politician.

My problem with so-called social moderates or liberals is that they're all too often squishy on the other issues as well. I want a social liberal, but I also want an honest-to-God, hard-ass conservative on the other issues. Rudy, to me, seems uniquely positioned in this regard. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

July 07, 2006

NJ: Back in business

Sounds like a budget deal will allow New Jersey to re-open. Well hoo-fricken-ray, I guess.

For those of you who haven't been following, here's the short version. Governor Corzine, who was elected after pledging to raise taxes only as a "last resort," proposed a whole slew of new taxes as soon as his hand came off the bible.

The state legislature, while not opposing a tax hike per se, was haunted by memories of Florio, and balked at Corzine's 16% increase in the sales tax.

The resulting impasse caused the state government to close down, but only for a week, unfortunately, because now there's a deal. Corzine wanted the sales tax hike, the legislature didn't, so they "compromised" and did what Corzine wanted.

Hoo. Fricken. Ray.

July 06, 2006

Sigh, Part II

Is there any reason I should watch the Lieberman-Lamont debate tonight? Any reason at all? I've tried my damnedest to care how this thing plays out, but I just can't seem to do it.

All right, now it's official

Cindy Sheehan is bat-shit insane.

Activist Cindy Sheehan, who is leading a hunger strike against the war in Iraq, tells Norah O’Donnell she would rather live under Hugo Chavez than George W. Bush.

Either that or the hunger pangs have made her delusional... but I doubt it.


I guess I'll somehow have to gin up at least enough interest in soccer to pull against France. After all, the French stand a chance of winning the Tour de France for the first time in... centuries or something. We don't want them winning the World Cup in the same year. They might get la grande tête.

Update: Emily's death tax woes

I'm updating this story because it generated a lot of questions and a lot of interest. I still don't know all the details, of course, but Emily's tax liability is at the state level, not federal. It turns out that the state of New Jersey levies an inheritance tax of its own (why am I not surprised?) that lacks the exemptions of the federal system.

The estate consists almost entirely of the woman's modest, $550,000 home. And for those of you in normal parts of the country, the word "modest" is not a typo, and I was not being ironic. Still, Emily is incurring a $35,000 tax liability that is due in a month although she's still unable to close on the house.

This is why I think inheritance taxes are so pernicious. Most other taxes are triggered by willful actions on the part of the taxed -- you go out and earn a paycheck, you get taxed; you sell stock, you get taxed; you buy stuff, you get taxed.

Fine. But Emily did nothing. She was sitting around, minding her on business, when all this crap she never asked for was dumped in her lap. That's a bummer.

Tax-cutting Democrats

If this becomes a trend, I'm switching parties. You read it here first. Emphasis mine. And pay particular attention to Bill Richardson's quote at the end of the excerpt.

Only last week, the very blue state of Rhode Island adopted one of the most sweeping pro-growth tax reforms in any state in recent years. Democrats, who control 70% of the state legislature, teamed up with Republican Governor Donald L. Carcieri to enact a plan that allows residents the choice of a flat tax that cuts the top tax rate on high income earners to 5.5% from 9.9% if they voluntarily give up deductions. In an instant, Rhode Island has gone from the state with the third highest income tax rate in the nation to the 27th, according to the Tax Foundation.

For good measure, the state also cut property taxes, passed a tax credit of up to $1 million for businesses to help fund private school tuition, and reformed the health insurance market by allowing small businesses to buy "stripped down" health insurance free of many costly mandates. The latter could save employers 25% while expanding the number of insured workers.

Just as impressive is the economic logic that Rhode Island Democrats used to justify the tax cuts. "Our high tax rates make us uncompetitive," says Democratic House Speaker William Murphy. "Business leaders with incomes of more than $250,000 look at Massachusetts and see a 5.3% income tax, Connecticut with a 5% tax, and Rhode Island with a 9.9% tax. They make a choice on where to move and create jobs, and that difference in tax rates is a big factor in where they go." Art Laffer couldn't have said it better.

A handful of Democratic Governors have also signed tax cut bills in recent weeks. Arizona's Janet Napolitano agreed to a 10% across-the-board cut in income tax rates, and Oklahoma's Brad Henry signed into law a budget that will cut rates by nearly 20%, from 6.25% to 5.25% and abolish the state estate tax.

Governors Henry and Napolitano resisted the tax cuts for much of this year, but now they are taking political credit for signing them. Maybe they learned from Bill Clinton, who signed a reduction in the capital gains tax in 1997 after campaigning against "tax cuts for the rich" and basked in the stock market rise and strong economy for much of the rest of his second term.

Another Democratic Governor who's embraced tax cutting and benefited politically is New Mexico's Bill Richardson. Since winning the state house in 2002, he has cut the state's top income tax rate to 4.9% from 8.2% and cut the capital gains tax in half. "This was our way of declaring to the world that New Mexico is open for business," Mr. Richardson tells us. "After all, businesses move to states where taxes are falling, not rising." But don't tax cuts produce budget deficits? Not in New Mexico, which now has a half-billion-dollar surplus and has seen tax revenues soar by 27% this year, faster than in any other state over the past year, according to the Rockefeller Institute state revenue report.

We asked Mr. Richardson how he thought his party could regain its competitiveness with the GOP on the national level. His answer is good advice for Democrats everywhere: "We have to be the party of growth and the American dream, not the party of redistribution."

Seriously, if this catches on with Democrats at the national level, that's all I need to switch affiliations.

July 05, 2006


9/11 was an inside job!

As my friend Soobee would say, I have no words.

(Hat tip: Jonah)

Winds of change

There's a storm a-brewin'. The number of "Corzine sucks" hits for this site is skyrocketing.

BTW, on an unrelated topic, props to Jill for the best headline of the day, regarding the untimely demise of everyone's favorite potato chip heir:

   Ken Lay Avoids Jail

Moonbats and "net neutrality"

Lefty bloggers who by-and-large champion "net neutrality" had a field day recently with Ted Stevens' embarrassing explanation of how the internet works on the Senate floor.

As near as I can tell, their logic seems to go as follows:

  1. Congress lacks a thorough understanding of technological issues. *
  2. Therefore we must ensure that Congress acts with all due haste to regulate the internet.

Moreover, they seem convinced they are standing up for the "little guy" by joining the debate on the side of software titans Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. Welcome to the strange and wonderful world of Moonbatus Americanus, I guess.

For my part, I'm happy that the internet has thus far remained remarkably (and miraculously) free of regulation. Before we allow Congress to go off half-cocked and impose a regulatory "solution," I'd at least like to wait until the supposed problem actually presents itself. Doesn't seem like too much to ask, IMO.

* A point I readily concede.

Idiocy at the Huffington Post

As a child I was told I had to eat my veggies because there were starving children in China. It's one of the oldest examples of parental manipulation in the book. My grandfather heard the same bogus line when he was a kid, only the starving children were in "Belgium" back then.

Even as a six-year-old I rolled my eyes at this nonsense. Apparently, however, such vapid cliches can still pass as thoughtful and profound commentary over at the Harridan Post. Check out the headline on Russell Shaw's piece about that proud Fourth of July tradition: Coney Island's hot dog eating contest.

   While Children Starve, the Media Obsesses About a Hot-Dog-Eating Contest

Apparently, yesterday's harmless fun touched a nerve with Mr. Shaw, to say the least (emphasis mine.)

What kind of an entertainment-driven "hey look at that" carnival-like "news" culture do we live in where a bunch of two-legged pigs eating fat and salt-laden hot dogs by the dozens are garnering all this ink and online coverage for some championship hot-dog eating contest while at the same time...

Hundreds of thousands of children throughout much of the Third World will die of malnutrition this week?

Not only children but adults.

Yes, you pigs..at the same time you swallowed down a succession of tube steaks to the cheers of your beer-swilling friends the starving are perishing.

Subtlety isn't exactly his strong suit, is it? Ironically, neither is pushing away from the table, if the photo above his byline is any indication. Takeru Kobayashi, the reigning six-year hot dog eating champion, weighs in a very fit 160 pounds, by contrast. If Shaw truly is ridden with so much "heartache" as a result of this wretched excess, perhaps he could send a portion of his own dinner plate to Bangladesh. Doing so would benefit himself as well as starving children in the Third World. With time and discipline, he might eventually even slim down to Kobayashi's waist size. Maybe he could join Hollywood in a "rolling fast".

But no, he'd rather call Kobayashi and all of us who saw (or even read about) the contest "pigs." Using Shaw's own logic, I wonder how he justifies expending so much "heartache" over some silly, once-a-year contest? You'd think there are plenty of problems in the world that are more deserving of attention than a few people in Coney Island eating some hot dogs.

July 04, 2006

Happy 4th!!

After weeks and weeks of being subjected to endless matches of that euro-wuss game which shall not be named, we can finally get to a real sport! It's time for the annual hot dog eating contest as Coney Island.

And this year you can bet on it.

It's a pretty low-key affair for me this year. Just beer, burgers, dogs and fish on the backyard grill with a few friends. So how's everyone else celebrating this year?

July 03, 2006

Jersey shut down

The state of New Jersey is now officially shut down, and you'd think it'd be bigger news. Howie's headline sums it up nicely for me:

State of New Jersey Shut Down, No One Notices

It's not completely shut down, of course. I've been driving around today and you can bet your ass they're still collecting tolls (hope can always find a way for those truly important "services.")

The problem, of course, is that even Governor Corzine's fellow Democrats are balking at his tax-everything-that-isn't-nailed-down travesty of a budget. Reminiscent of Clinton/Gingrich, right? Only without any Gingriches.

Especially silent are all the Jersey bloggers who breathlessly supported Corzine's campaign for governor. I wonder why that would be? Perhaps since no Republicans are involved, they're confused about which side to take. See, that's the reason New Jersey needs to elect a Republican at least occasionally. Otherwise, there won't be anyone to blame for the state's legendary dysfunction.

Random thoughts on Superman

So I saw Superman Returns this weekend. It sucked.

After 35 years, I've finally come to the conclusion that the character of Superman in fundamentally boring. He has none of the brooding vengeance of Bruce Wayne or the teenage angst of Peter Parker. He's a non-interesting galactic boy scout and a compulsive do-gooder, whom I could not bring myself to care about at the end of the film when he was lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life. Sorry, I'm a cold-hearted bastard, but I just can't relate to the guy. And Lois Lane is whiny and annoying.

Here's something else that always pissed me off about Superman: World's Finest. It was a monthly Superman-Batman team-up that I read as a kid. Even back in those days I realized what a preposterously lopsided match this was.

One half of the duo could uproot mountains and hurl them into outer space. The other half was a billionaire with some cool toys and a bad-ass car. You can just imagine some of the absurdly contrived hoops the writers jumped through to set up unlikely premises in which Batman could pull his own weight instead of just being in the way.

Here's another ridiculous team-up: Green Lantern and Green Arrow. They both wore green, but the former had almost god-like powers ("Hey, I think I'll create a world!") and the latter... was good at archery.

This is a problem that plagued much of the D.C. universe, as was abundantly apparent in the old Justice League of America series. On the same team you had Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman, and we were led to believe they were on a par with third-stringers such as... Hawkman.

Hawkman's powers? He could fly. Big deal. Hell, everybody and their freakin' uncles could fly in that universe. You probably had trouble applying for a home mortgage if you couldn't fly. Oh, and he also owned a bunch of cool, medieval weapons. Woo-hoo.

Then there was Black Canary, whose super power seemed to be her ability to wear fishnet stockings, and Atom, who's "power" was that he was very tiny. You get the idea....