Marvel pulls Riri Williams variant cover, cowers to Social Justice Puritans

A new breed of Puritans exist in America these days, but they ironically want nothing to do with Christianity. They’re overwhelmingly secular college kids who spend their days and nights looking for ways to be offended. Comic Book Resources reported Thursday that Marvel Comics cowered to their latest tantrum over a variant cover for Invincible Iron Man #1.

The charge: Riri Williams was allegedly too (gasp!) sexual.

If you want further proof that Marvel’s comic book division is run by emasculated man-boys, then check out my latest YouTube video below.

Ask yourself: How can a company that survives on art last if the Social Justice Puritans have veto power over variant covers?

Update, Oct. 24, 2016: Frank Cho is now calling the social justice obsessive “Neo-Puritans.” Score.


Dan Slott ‘kills’ Peter Parker (again) in Amazing Spider-Man #20, repeats key mistake from infamous Clone Saga


The Amazing Spider-Man #20 has arrived, which means readers get the return of Doctor Octopus in his original body and the “death” of Peter Parker — again. Yes, you read that right, Dan Slott has essentially “killed” Peter Parker for a third time.

Here is what you need to know for ASM#20:

  • Otto (inside his Octobot form the future) and AI Anna Maria Marconi visit his grave and find it empty.
  • An investigation reveals that someone has stolen Otto’s corpse from a cemetery that serves as a resting place for many super villains. There is a black market for dead super villains.
  • Otto and AI Anna go into the internet and use their digital “minds” to deceive New U into placing a bid for Otto’s corpse.
  • Otto heads to New U and realizes that his corpse contains the brain waves of none other than…Peter Parker!
  • A fight ensues (again), and Otto makes short work of everyone’s favorite hero. It turns out (and readers should assume this will change at least one more time) that the original Peter Parker died while only a memory “fragment” made it into the ASM #700 Peter Parker body. Jackal even applauds Otto while saying, You killed the heck out of it.”
  • A spy for Kingpin monitors everything that happens in New U.
  • Otto and the Jackal team up to try and figure out a way to keep “reanimated” bodies from decomposing without a pill.
  • The issue ends right where Dead No More: Clone Conspiracy #1 finished.

Just to make sure that everyone understands what is going on, Peter Parker “died” in ASM #700, he was “killed” again for all intents and purposes during Superior Spider-Man #9, and now “executed” in ASM #20. But — and this is a big but — it could very well turn out that this “real” Peter Parker was in fact a “memory fragment” left behind by the “real” Peter Parker as he returned to his body in ASM #700.

Confused? Don’t feel bad about it.


The problem with the original Clone Saga was that it broke one of the most common sense rules for storytellers — don’t break your readers’ trust. That doesn’t mean that authors can’t have twists and turns; it means that readers should never feel duped or misled.

No one wants to believe that the Peter Parker (i.e., hero) they’ve been reading about for days, weeks, months, or years is just a “memory fragment” or a “clone” or a “reanimation.” People sink a lot of money and time into a character, so it becomes bothersome if a writer does the equivalent of, “And then I woke up” on his audience. That is something that high school creative writing classes teach, so it is bizarre that Marvel writer Dan Slott would mine that “reanimation” well throughout Clone Conspiracy.


So who is the “real” Peter Parker? Who is the fake? Are any of them real? Readers are supposed to be thrilled with the prospect that the last couple of years have really just been one big fake-out, but human nature does not work that way.

People do not like to be lied to. It’s one thing to play games with supporting characters, but it is a whole different “can of clones” when the protagonist is disrespectfully jerked around.


There is much more to say, but in this instance I think I’ll cut it short and ask you to share your thoughts in the comments section below. And please make sure to watch my latest YouTube video on ASM #20 and subscribe for regular comic book reviews.

‘Black Hawk Down’: Read the book because the movie can never do the men who died justice


If you ask most people what they think of Black Hawk Down, then the vast majority of the time the response you’ll get will probably be something along the lines of, “Good movie.” That is understandable, given that it was a blockbuster film in 2001 produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Ridley Scott.

If you are like me, then perhaps you’ve always had an itch regarding the movie and, more importantly, the event — the downing of two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and the subsequent deaths of 18 American soldiers Oct. 3-4, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Sure, it made for a night out at the theater, but perhaps you’ve felt that it was somehow insulting to only know the tale through its Bruckheimerization.

As regular readers of this blog know, I have been working on a book in my spare time that will eventually see the light of day (we’re at the artwork stage now, so hang tight!). There are parts of the novel that required knowledge of Task Force Ranger, and at some point I admitted to myself that it would be literary heresy to not read Mark Bowden’s masterpiece to assist with authenticity. It is safe to say that there probably is not a more comprehensive retelling of the ill-fated attempt to capture two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

And if you do not think any of this is still relevant, then I suggest you start reading The New York Times. The paper reported Sunday in a piece titled In Somalia, U.S. Escalates a Shadow War:

The Obama administration has intensified a clandestine war in Somalia over the past year, using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies in an escalating campaign against Islamist militants in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation.

Hundreds of American troops now rotate through makeshift bases in Somalia, the largest military presence since the United States pulled out of the country after the “Black Hawk Down” battle in 1993. …

In March, an American airstrike killed more than 150 Shabab fighters at what military officials called a “graduation ceremony,” one of the single deadliest American airstrikes in any country in recent years. But an airstrike last month killed more than a dozen Somali government soldiers, who were American allies against the Shabab.

Outraged Somali officials said the Americans had been duped by clan rivals and fed bad intelligence, laying bare the complexities of waging a shadow war in Somalia. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said the Pentagon was investigating the strike.

Who, exactly, are we fighting? Why are we there? Should we be there?

Mr. Bowden’s book provides many of the answers, which unfortunately raise more questions:

“In books and movies when a soldier shot a man for the first time he went through a moment of soul searching. Waddell didn’t give it a second thought. He just reacted. he thought the man was dead. He had just folded. Startled by Waddell’s shot, Nelson hadn’t seen the man drop. Waddell pointed to where he had fallen and the machine gunner stood up, lifted his big gun, and pumped a few more rounds into the man’s body to make sure. Then they both ran for better cover.

They found it behind a burned out-car. Peering out from underneath toward the north now, Nelson saw a Somali with a gun lying prone on the street between two kneeling women. The shooter had the barrel of this weapon between the women’s legs, and there were four children actually sitting on him. He was completely shielded in noncombatants, taking full cynical advantage of the Americans’ decency.

“Check it out, John,” he told Waddell, who scooted over for a look.

“What do you want to do?” Waddell asked.

“I can’t get that guy through those people.”

So Nelson threw a flashbang, and the group fled so fast the man left his gun in the dirt.” — Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down (New York: Grove Press, 1999), 46.

If you want to know what it’s like to have an entire city honed in on killing you and those you hold dear, then I suggest reading Black Hawk Down. The book can be a bit arduous at times — it’s like trying to eat a steak the size of your head — but there is no escaping it because a.) Mr. Bowden leaves no stone unturned, and b.) the experience for the men on the ground was grueling.

Perhaps the best endorsement of the book that I can give is this: I did not know much about the author before picking up the book, and was surprised to find out he is not a veteran. He’s just a reporter who did a damn good job telling a story.

Black Hawk Down is a book about courage and fear, the nature of war, success and failure on the battlefield, and most importantly the experiences of the men who fought valiantly to save one another in situation that was so surreal that it seem like “a movie.”

 It was not a movie — it happened — which is why those who care about national defense issues should read it sooner rather than later.

Kudos to Mr. Bowden for writing a book that will be read by military men and women for generations to come.

Dan Slott says ‘favorite Spider-Man villain’ is ‘Peter Parker,’ yearns for deal with ‘ultimate devil’

Dan Slott Renew Your Vows

Marvel’s release of Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy this week brought with it an obligatory round of promotional interviews. Therefore, it was reasonable to conclude that writer Dan Slott of The Amazing Spider-Man would say something to prove how he fundamentally misunderstands Peter Parker. A recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter was all it took, as he said his favorite Spider-Man “villain” is, in fact, Peter Parker.

Regular readers of this blog remember how an October 2015 entry — Dan Slott: Peter Parker’s love for Mary Jane is ‘anti-Marvel’ — was accused of being taken “out of context,” despite the fact that full context (and an hour-long embedded YouTube video) was provided.  Therefore, your friendly neighborhood blogger will preemptively draw attention to the fact that I am linking to the full Hollywood Reporter interview, asking you to read it in its entirety, and going out of my way to provide full context.

THR’s Graeme McMillan and Mr. Slott had the following exchange:

Graeme McMillan: You have fans complaining that you don’t “know” Spider-Man.

Dan Slott: Despite the fact that I’ve written one out of every five issues of Amazing Spider-Man, which is kind of scary. But, to me, the fun of it is, at his basic core, even if you strip away ‘with great power must come great responsibility,’ what makes Peter Parker this character that resonates with all of us is that he’s really the first character who’s you. He’s the guy you know. He’s not a wealthy billionaire playboy, he’s not an alien from another planet, he’s not a god from a pantheon. He’s the guy down the block who trips and falls, who screws up in every way that you screw up. All the self-destructive traits that you have, and your friends have, he has. People say to me, ‘Who’s your favorite Spider-Man villain?’ and my answer is Peter Parker, because no-one can mess up Spider-Man’s life like Peter Parker can.

One of those fans who “complains” that Dan Peter’s-love-for-MJ-is-anti-Marvel Slott does not “know” Spider-Man (or, rather, Peter Parker) is right here, so let us begin.

Words mean something. The words we use have consequences. There is great power in words, and with that comes great responsibility. Therefore, it stands to reason that being imprecise or flippant with a word like ‘villain’ can lead to terrible results — even if we have good intentions.

Mr. Slott says “no-one can mess up Spider-Man’s life like Peter can,” but we know that his rogue’s gallery is filled with homicidal monsters, megalomaniacs with a desire for genocide, at at least one literal demon who successfully severed the bond between he and his soulmate, Mary Jane.

Question: Why on earth would a writer pretend that “villain” is synonymous with “fallible human being”?

Answer: Because a writer like Dan Slott is the kind of person who publicly admits he wants a hero like Peter Parker making deals with a devil.  Heroes do not consciously make deals with devils — villains do. If Peter Parker is described as a guy who tries his best but isn’t perfect, then Mr. Slott’s vision cannot be realized. The language needs to change. Readers need to be convinced that their hero is simultaneously a villain, and that it’s acceptable.

That is perverse. That is sick. That is naked moral relativism, and it is propagated by a man who mistakes writing a character for a long time with doing it well (i.e., Saying, “I’ve written one of every five issues of Amazing Spider-Man,” in response to charges of not knowing Peter Parker).

Let us return to his THR interview:

Dan Slott: The Jackal has expanded his science. He’s not getting it from a blood sample, he’s getting it from a corpse. It’s all the memories, all the way up to your death —

Graeme McMillan: So they’re complete copies.

Dan Slott: Yes! They remember everything, all the way up to that last moment. It’s less a clone — I wanted to brand them, and the Jackal brands them, ‘re-animates.’ It’s different than a clone, it’s better than a clone. And in that moment, the Jackal becomes the ultimate devil you can make a deal with. He becomes the person who says, ‘If you’ve lost anyone, I can give them back to you. Whatever person you’ve loved or lost, or maybe someone who tormented you and lost, I can bring them back to you.’

Ignore the fact that clones would know that they are clones and immediately branch off into a completely different life-path than his or her progenitor. What matters here is that Mr. Slott a.) attaches a very specific word — ‘villain’ — to the hero, and b.) admits that he wants said hero/villain making deals with an “ultimate devil.”

If you are a long-time reader of The Amazing Spider-Man, look at Mr. Slott’s track record and ask yourself if he was being glib or if he says what he means and means what he says. It is this blogger’s contention that when he says Peter Parker is a villain, he means it. And he gets away with it because many people who are repulsed by such a premise buy ASM out of their life-long love for the character.

Things will only change when enough readers vote with their wallet. (Exacerbating the problem are access-addicted comic book websites that are terrified of offering legitimate criticism, but I digress.)

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the “villainous” Peter Parker and the writer behind his reign of terror. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Update: Dan Slott is now unblocking people on Twitter who discuss this blog post, and then trying to hide behind some weird excuse that Stan Lee would have called Peter Parker a “villain.” You can’t make this up. Classic! (Hat tip to reader JB for the catch.)



Dan Slott’s ‘Dead No More #1’ can’t shake stale smell of clone stories better left buried in Spider-Man history


Marvel’s big Spider-Man event of the year has finally arrived with Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy #1. Readers who lived through the 90s wondered why writer Dan Slott would dig up the still-rotting corpse of The Clone Saga, and DNM #1 seems to confirm their worst fears. Recycled plastic usually has a weird quality to it that fails to match the original, and recycled stories are the same way.

Here is what you need to know for DNM #1:

  • Peter attends the funeral of Jay Jameson and Jonah explodes on him, which is odd because he knows New U has the power to bring people back from the dead. Jonah’s first wife Marla, after all, has returned.
  • Peter says “this is all my fault” to himself after everyone leaves, even though it clearly was not.
  • Anna Maria Marconi finds out that Peter’s spider-sense went off when he used Jerry Salteres as a guinea pig for New U’s experimental treatment. The two decide to visit the employee’s house to investigate.
  • Jerry’s wife reveals that her husband failed to take his medicine and had something “terrifying” happen to him. New U told her not to talk about it and scrubbed her webware, which contained video of the incident.
  • Peter inexplicably vows to bring Jerry home after retrieving lost data from the webware. Anna privately scolds him for the promise and he heads off to New U as Spider-Man.
  • It turns out Peter used a “microscopic, sub-dermal tracer” on Jerry when they saw each other in the hospital, so he tracks down the man’s “reanimating” body inside a lab.
  • Miles Warren walks in on Peter and within moments Rhino and female Electro are headed for battle.
  • Spider-Man goes into a room marked “Do Not Enter” and finds Gwen Stacy. He is surprised when she doesn’t set off his spider-sense.
  • A reanimated Doctor Octopus punches Peter in the face with a tentacle and the issue ends.

DNM #1 also features a story by Dan Slott titled The Night I Died, which tweaks elements of 1973’s The Amazing Spider-Man #122 to include a semi-conscious Gwen finding out that Peter Parker was Spider-Man just before her death. She cries while thinking of Peter as “the man who helped kill dad.”

Gwen is then “reanimated” by Miles Warren, aka The Jackal, and introduced to her father as a means of convincing her to become a “business partner.”

The problem with mixing clone stories and The Amazing Spider-Man, besides the fact that they have been done to death (no pun intended) — and badly done — is that a writer is tasked with covering the very nature of existence, consciousness, and the soul. Even unintelligent readers seem to inherently understand that the writer is entering into serious territory, so if the tale isn’t handled right it crumbles under its own weight.


Let’s put it another way: Even clones in real life would know that they are clones (i.e., see the panel of Gwen Stacy realizing what has happened before grabbing a knife to slit her own throat). Readers are the same way. Why should they care about Gwen Clone?

They shouldn’t — unless it is done well.


And there’s the rub. On Dan Slott’s watch, Peter Parker “died” and came back to life. The character has not had a single moment of honest reflection on his own death (or whatever it was, since it was never clear) since the series relaunched. Human beings — flesh and blood with thoughts and emotions and hopes and dreams — would be shaken to their core if they died and were brought back to life. Not Dan Slott’s Peter Parker.

Therefore, it stands to reason that if Mr. Slott does not even apply basic human reactions to the protagonist of the series then he will not do so in a meaningful way with clones.

DNM #1 appears to set up all sorts of twists and turns for Peter Parker in the next couple of months. That is the good news.

The bad news is this: Like most conspiracies, the people who weave them usually lose their audience in an incoherent mess that unravels with the least bit of scrutiny. Before you plunk down $4.99 for this book, consider Mr. Slott’s track record and then ask yourself if he seems up to the task.

Editor’s Note:

Regular readers of this blog remember the time when I accurately predicted Dan Slott’s “Arachno-Rockets.” It appears as though your friendly neighborhood blogger has another notch on the belt after having asked in February when “single-cell Spider-tracers” would arrive. DNM #1 does not quite give us a single-celled tracer, but it is “microscopic, sub-dermal.” Given that the function is essentially the same, we’ll consider that a win.


Mark Levin stands on moral pedestal after Trump’s ‘p***y’ comments, weirdly screams at Never Trump instead

Donald Trump

The 2016 U.S. presidential election gets weirder by the week, which in many ways is a good thing because the world is seeing everyone’s true colors come out. Audio from a 2005 conversation between Donald Trump and Billy Bush leaked late last Friday, which meant that “conservative” radio hosts weighed in today.

Mark Levin, for instance, thought the best thing to do in a post “grab her by the p***y” world would be to scream at the Never Trump movement like Grandpa Simpson.

Red State shared Mr. Levin’s opening monologue Monday night:

“This is a plebiscite against Hillary Clinton! Against Barack Obama! Against the centralized state! No, we don’t have the candidate that I wanted, but I can’t change that, now can I? No, I can’t.

So the moral high ground is not to duck the tough decision and stand on the sidelines while some of us make the tough decision. That’s not the moral high ground! The principled high ground is not to stand on the sideline and watch your country crater! And say, ‘I told you so, I told you so.’ No, that’s not the principled high ground, either. The real test of a human being is what they do when they’re challenged. When it’s not easy. When they don’t like the choices. But the moral and principled thing to not do is for conservatives to whine and complain, ‘Oh, woe is me,’ and just sit on your ass.”

Millions of people stayed home when Mitt Romney — a good and decent man — was the Republican nominee in 2008. I do not recall Mr. Levin ever screaming his lungs out and haranguing Republicans who sat “on the sidelines” in protest.

I voted for George W. Bush. I voted for John McCain. I voted for Mitt Romney. In each instance there were things about the candidates that bothered me, but I voted for them anyway.

Now, in 2016, guys like me are being rhetorically flogged by the likes of Mark Levin because we aren’t excited about someone who a.) was a Democrat for the vast majority of his adult life, b.) donated to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008, c.) still does not publicly hold conservative positions on multiple issues (e.g., free trade), d.) literally bragged about trying to “f**k” a married woman, and e.) admitted that he has never asked God for forgiveness.

Question: At what point does a Republican candidate become unacceptable to the likes of Mark Levin?

Answer: Apparently, never.

The 2016 U.S. presidential election is the visible manifestation of our own cultural rotgut eating away at our insides. Myself and many others are in this world, but not of it. If the nation goes mad, then I am under no obligation to partake in the affair. I will not be guilted or shamed into voting for a candidate, nor will I care if self-righteous radio hosts try to blame me — a principled, law-abiding man who loves his country — for America’s decline.

Here is an uncomfortable fact: Mark Levin and many other “conservative” radio hosts sat in silence regarding Donald Trump during the Republican primaries. They did this because they liked making the Republican Party squirm. In fact, they liked it so much that they ignored all the warning signs that they were creating a Frankenstein monster. And then, when the monster broke free, they decided to blame the very people who were screaming, “Stop! This is madness!” from the very beginning.

If Mark Levin does not like the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, then his search for people to blame should begin with a look in the mirror.

Jesse Watters’ ‘Chinatown’ video: Producer crosses fine line between ‘politically incorrect’ and ‘giant jerk’


Fox News regularly fights the refrain that it is filled with a bunch of racists and bigots. Given that, one would think that producers would shy away from material that feeds the narrative. If you thought that, then you would be wrong! O’Reilly Factor producer Jesse Watters came out with a “Chinatown” segment this week that was one of the most disgusting things I have seen on a cable news station in years.

As a staunch conservative, I will now explain to you why friends of limited government should vehemently condemn the network for putting this “political humor” on the air.

Conservatives like to think of themselves as politically incorrect, but there is a difference between speaking uncomfortable truths and being a low-life jerk. Jesse Watters does not know the difference between the two because he approached people who did not understand English, asked them culturally insensitive questions, and then exploited their inability to communicate to mock them.

That, dear reader, is not “politically incorrect” — that is mean. And for some reason people on social media do not seem to get this.


As I told multiple individuals over the past few days, what Jesse Watters did was one step removed from asking a Chinese stranger what “Ching-Chong Ching-Chong” means. The guy literally asked people if he should bow to say hello, if it was the “year of the Dragon,” and if they knew karate. He preyed on the ignorance of an old woman for a cheap joke, and issued a non-apology apology when he was called out by millions of people with a functional moral compass.

What is extra grating about Mr. Watters is that he did what all bullies do — he went after an easy target.

Would Jesse Watters go into a Muslim neighborhood and makes “jokes” to Arabic-speaking women about washing feet in the sink? No.

Would Jesse Watters go into a community of Somali immigrants and joke about child soldiers? No.

Would Jesse Watters go into a Jewish community and joke with people who only speak Hebrew about rhinoplasty? No.

The reason why Mr. Watters created this “joke” the way he did was because he knew he could get away with it in an asian community. If he pulled that level of racial or cultural insensitivity in other areas, then he would have received a black eye and a trip to the hospital.

If you ever wondered why minority groups tend to shy away from the Republican Party, then Jesse Watters’ “Chinatown” is a great learning tool. There is nothing wrong with racial jokes in the appropriate forums (e.g., Comedy Central roasts), but it is certainly beyond the pale to use an immigrant’s language barrier as a springboard for ridicule.

Dan Slott’s Spider-Man: ‘Web-cement’ ready in China, not when Peter’s family needs him in ASM #19


The last two issues of The Amazing Spider-Man have seen the strongest writing on the book in months, which is odd given that its main character — Peter Parker — was relegated to the sidelines. He is back in ASM #19 and, seemingly like clockwork, the book has taken an embarrassing turn. Ham-fisted attempts to prove that he’s a snake-bitten loser abound, and tears flow because the guy with 10,000 specialized web cartridges couldn’t remember that Cartridge Seven contained “quick-drying web-cement” (as seen in ASM #6).

ASM6 web cement
When Peter Parker is in China, “quick-drying web-cement” is on hand for a nearly abandoned construction site. When he’s in New York and his family needs him, he doesn’t think to use it. What does editor Nick Lowe actually do in the office, anyway?

Here is what you need to know for ASM #19:

  • Aunt May tells Peter to hurry to the hospital because her husband, Jay Jameson Sr., is getting worse with some disease that Marvel has not elaborated on. It’s just bad…and deadly…because illness.
  • Peter is on his way when he hears someone scream, “Stop! Thief! That’s all my money!” Our hero turns the corner and sees two men running down the street. He webs both of them up and a shop owner yells at Spider-Man for webbing up his son (even though it was perfectly understandable to make such a mistake and the hero literally secured the guy’s entire life savings).
  • Peter then inexplicably says he doesn’t blame New Yorkers for hating him.
  • Everyone wants to know why Peter used New U’s technology on an employee, but he doesn’t want it applied to Jay Jameson Sr. They don’t believe him when he says that further Parker Industries research has shown that conventional methods are probably safer as long as time permits. (Again, what is the disease? Can’t Dan Slott call a doctor and do a little research for something plausible?)
  • Jay privately asks Peter to go to his apartment and get a clock that was brought to America from Ireland. Jay wants to give it to his son before he dies. Peter agrees to get the heirloom.
  • Peter webs the clock to his back and heads for the hospital, but a greedy industrialist’s decision to ignore safety regulations (but of course!) causes an accident. A crane comes unmoored from a building and Peter, in a Christ-like pose, must hold it in place from falling while rescue workers arrive. Aunt May calls him and berates him for taking his time. She wants to see him face-to-face on his phone, but he tells her it’s impossible at the moment.
  • J. Jonah Jameson talks to the “reanimated” Marla and asks her what to do.  She tells him to convince Peter to use New U’s technology on his father.
  • Peter’s webbing dissolves after an hour and the clock falls from his back. He finds it later and it’s broken.
  • Aunt May and J. Jonah Jameson cry as perpetually tardy Peter arrives to the hospital with the shattered clock.

Perhaps the two best ways to describe ASM #19 is “forced” and “convoluted.” Characters behave in ways that are downright weird to advance the plot, and Peter is shoe-horned into situations show the tension that his secret identity imposes upon his personal life.


What makes this issues climax fall flat is the fact that for well over a year Dan Slott has pulled out numerous inventions out of Peter Parker’s butt, but for no apparent his reason his technological butt-magic disappears in ASM #19. He literally held up an entire building with web fluid in ASM #6, but now — when he really needs it — the proven technology is not even mentioned.

Heck, Spider-Man even had “web-foam” literally spin off his back on voice command in ASM #9, which protected him as he entered earth’s atmosphere. Are readers supposed to believe he wouldn’t wrap a precious family heirloom in it? Thanks for making Peter look like a total doofus, Dan Slott.

Marvel’s message to readers translated: “Did you think J. Jonah Jameson was praying to God in the first panel? Gotcha! Who would do such a crazy thing? Haha. He was talking to Marla the whole time.”

In short, you may enjoy ASM #19 if you watch bad soap operas. Readers have hospital death scenes, people coming back from the dead, a lot of tears and hackneyed writing. Tune in next month for more Mighty Marvel Mayhem, true believers, when Peter Parker needs his “acid-webbing” to save the day, but then decides not to use it!


Bill Clinton calls Obamacare ‘crazy system,’ just as people who understand basic economics said since 2010


A really weird thing happened in Flint, Michigan on Monday: Bill Clinton criticized The [not so] Affordable Act just as Republicans have since 2010.

This blog said years ago that anyone who understood basic economics could predict exactly what would happen with the passage of Obamacare — and now the former president is on the campaign trail for his wife sounding like your friendly neighborhood blogger.

Here is what he said:

You’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world.”

I worked for three different organizations since The [not so] Affordable Care Act was signed into law, and the cost of insurance plans spiked at all of them. Early on, I was trying to live inside the Beltway on less than $40,000 a year while trying to pay off students loans from USC and American University. (Try making that work with a morning commute into the city while paying rent.)

“The people that are getting killed in this deal are small business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies,” Mr. Clinton added at one point.

Indeed! I and millions of other hard-working Americans knew the feeling all too well. And, yes Mr. Clinton, I was working well over 60 hours per week at the time.

The funny thing is, the next step will be to call for a total takeover of the health care system by the federal government. Republicans claimed that Obamacare was a Trojan Horse for socialized health care, and they were called conspiracy theorists. But that is exactly what is happening.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 13:

It looks like 2017 will be ObamaCare’s worst year yet. The three major insurers, along with many smaller plans, are largely exiting the health-insurance exchanges, leaving more than half of U.S. counties with only one or two health-plan choices, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Nearly 36% of ObamaCare regions may have only one participating insurance carrier offering plans for 2017, according to health-care analytics firm Avalere Health. Data from analysts at Barclays and Credit Suisse project that health-insurance premiums are expected to rise at least 24% in 2017.

To rescue President Obama’s health-care law, Hillary Clinton has proposed resurrecting the “public option.” This failed idea—a government-run health-care plan to compete with private insurers—can’t save ObamaCare. But introducing it across the country would move the U.S. much closer to the single-payer system progressives have always longed for. …

In 2011 Vermont tried to use this waiver process to introduce a public option, only to abandon it three years later when it became clear that the scheme would yield skyrocketing taxes on small businesses.

If you think health care is expensive now, then just wait until it’s “free.” And if you don’t think that will happen, then simply take a step into the the Douglas Ernst Blog Time Machine and consider the following: There will always be men like Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber on call for the next Democrat president.

Mr. Gruber told an audience at the University of Pennsylvania in November 2014:

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. So it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in — it made explicit the healthy pay in and the and sick people get money — it would not have passed. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

Yep. That actually happened — and it’s only a matter of time before the next “Gruber” gives it a shot with socialized health care.

Democrats like Jonathan Gruber need people to be stupid to get signature pieces of legislation passed. They want people to be stupid. Consider that as you walk into the voting booth in November, and then again when your Democrat neighbor bashes charter schools.


‘Hope and Change’ sticker shock hits America: ‘I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it’

Harvard professors who championed Obamacare now livid over rising health care costs

Harry Reid acts as if the Internet doesn’t exist: ‘All’ Obamacare horror stories are untrue

Listen to Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber and then think about Obama’s call for Net Neutrality

‘Letters to a Young Catholic’: George Weigel hits a literary home run


George Weigel’s Letters to a Young Catholic is a wonderful book, but oddly enough I must begin this review by griping about the title — it’s something that Catholics of any age should read. In fact, the publisher does not lie by billing the book as “a modern spiritual classic,” which is why I recommend it to anyone who is interested in such issues.

Like many Catholic kids, my parents took me to Mass every Sunday growing up. And, like many Catholic kids, I was not exposed to the writings of G.K. Chesterton, George Weigel or other intellectual heavyweights. What I did have access to were kind adults who lacked the ability to articulate the faith in a way that “clicked” for me. I drifted from the Church as a young man and did not come back until I learned many painful lessons. If I were exposed to a book like this as a teenager then it probably would have saved me a lot of lost time, although I admit to having a largely impenetrable chip on my shoulder in those days. (And yes, I know that some of you would argue that it’s still there!)

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Letters to a Young Catholic is that in many ways it doubles as a must-read for those who are wondering why America’s political institutions are crumbling before our eyes. The way in which the author travels the globe, goes back in time, covers essential questions about the Catholic faith that all young people ask, and then ties it into our contemporary political landscape is like watching a gymnast who puts everything out on the floor before the judges — and nails it.

Mr. Weigel writes:

If American popular and high culture could ever agree on a theme song that captured the idea of freedom driving much of contemporary life, it would almost certainly be Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” I did it my way seems to sum up the widespread notion that freedom is a matter of asserting myself and my will — that freedom is really about choice, not about what we choose and why. Suggest that certain choices are just incompatible with human dignity and with growth in goodness, and you’ll get some very strange looks these days, whether on campus or in the workplace.

Catholicism has a different idea of freedom. In the Catholic idea of freedom, freedom and goodness go together. A great contemporary moral theologian, Father Servais Pinckaers, OP, explained all this. […] Learning to play the piano, he reminded us, is a tedious, even dreary business at first: well do I remember my own distaste for a book of technique-strengthening tortures entitled Scales, Chords, and Arpeggios. But after doing one’s exercises for a while, what originally seemed like a burden comes into clearer focus — learning to do the right thing in the right way is actually liberating. You can play anything you like, even the most difficult pieces. You can make new music on your own. Sure, Father Pinckaers writes, anybody can pound away on a piano. But that’s a rudimentary, savage sort of freedom,” not a truly human freedom. …

I did it my way teaches us an idea of freedom that Father Pinckaers calls “the freedom of indifference.” Doing things “my way,” just because it’s my way, is like banging idiotically on the piano or talking gibberish. The richer, nobler idea of freedom the Catholic Church proposes is what Father Pinckaers calls freedom for excellence — the freedom to do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons, as a matter of habit. That’s the truly human way. Because that’s the kind of freedom that satisfies our natural desire for happiness, which itself reflects our desire for God, who is all Good, all the way.  […] What’s all this got to do with democracy? Everything. Freedom untethered from moral truth will eventually become freedom’s worst enemy. — Weigel, George. Letters to a Young Catholic. Basic Books, 2015. 305-306.

A friend of mine texted me on Monday and said she hoped that I would cover the first U.S. presidential debate on the blog. In many ways, the text from Mr. Weigel’s book shown here tells us everything we need to know.

Why is America forced to choose between a woman who should be wearing an orange jumpsuit in a federal prison, and an egomaniac with occasionally orange skin?

Answer: Because America long ago decided it wanted to untether freedom from moral truth.

There really is no way to read Letters to a Young Catholic and not have a crystal clear understanding as to why civil society in the U.S. is unraveling. Our cultural influencers embrace a kind of nihilism “that enjoys itself on the way to oblivion, convinced that all of this — the world, us, relationships, sex, beauty, history — is really just a cosmic joke,” and we are now paying the price.

Mr. Weigel counters that “against the nihilist claim that nothing is really of consequence, Catholicism insists that everything is of consequence, because everything has been redeemed by Christ. And if you believe that, it changes the way you see things. It changes the way everything looks.”

If for no other reason, wayward Catholics should read this book to realize that what they thought was Catholicism growing up was in all likelihood a grossly watered down version of the Faith that denied them knowledge of its true richness and beauty. There are numerous reasons for this, and the author does a masterful job spelling it all out. I found myself thinking, “Finally! Someone who gets it,” and I am sure you will too.