The Orange County Register has an ad campaign going in which people stand around on street corners holding banners with controversial topics printed on them. The latest is, “Is Bush abusing executive power?”

Given that the Register is known to have a conservative bias (you can often guess a person’s political affiliation from whether they read the Register or the Los Angeles Times), chances are that their answer is “No.” However, it’s undisputed that Bush has been expanding executive power over the past six years.

The trick with expanded power is that people often don’t object when the person wielding it is someone with whom they agree. Even if you think it’s OK for President Bush to insist on greater powers, eventually, someone you don’t like will be in the Oval Office. Even if the Democratic party implodes, there are different factions in the Republican party, and chances are either the Republicans would split, or another party would rise to fill the gap. And if no one did… well, a one-party system isn’t much of a democracy, is it?

So whether it’s 2 years from now, 6 years, or 10 years, someone you disagree with will end up with all the powers Bush has pushed for. If there’s anything you don’t want that President to have…are you sure you want the current President to have it?

Yesterday, we drove past the same tax accountant who had a Dancing Statue of Liberty out front a few weeks ago. This time, there was a guy outside dressed as Uncle Sam.

Uncle Sam, and an interesting countdown.

Also, notice the banner indicating 2 days to April 15. Recall that this was on Saturday… in other words, April 15!

Of course, because of the weekend, income tax is due on the 17th this year, so the countdown was correct if you think of it as a countdown to the tax deadline. I figure they just didn’t want to get a different banner just for this year. But it just sounds like celebrating the Fourth of July on July 3.

Wow… a new issue of Rising Stars! To be honest, it was a bit of a let-down. Usually JMS is better at showing, rather than telling. He’s infamous for laboriously laying groundwork in the B-plots and character moments of what seem like “ordinary” stand-alone stories, then kicking the arc into high gear and making use of it all. He did it with Babylon 5 and Crusade, with the first arc of Rising Stars, seems to be taking the same approach in Supreme Power, and from what I’ve heard (though I’ve seen very little of it) he did the same with Jeremiah as well. If you’ve seen B5 once the story got going, go back and look at some of the first season episodes, and you’ll be surprised how early some elements are established.

This issue, however, though it had some nice moments, was basically a plot summary. “Poet tells the story of…” It seemed an odd narrative choice, particularly for an issue so near the end of the story (#22 of 24) and for the first issue to hit the shelves in nearly two years. Maybe it’ll read better in context.

Anyway, that’s not what I really wanted to talk about. What’s interesting is that in this issue, one of the Specials runs for President. It reminded me of something about the way comic books tell campaign stories. When a fictional character is in the race (or the office), he (it usually is a he) is almost always running under one of three circumstances:

  • As an independent.
  • On a fictional third-party ticket.
  • On an unidentified party’s ticket.

As we all know, third party candidates are rarely high-profile, and they rarely get significant numbers of votes, and I don’t think one has ever won the office*. Yet in comics, it happens all the time. Of course, heat vision, teleporters, and people who wear purple tights to fight crime are also commonplace. Continue reading